It is not even a week since Hyderabadi shikari Nawab Shafath Ali Khan gunned down a leopard that had been terrorising people of Thunag village in Himachal Pradesh.

Residents of this hilly terrain are virtually afraid to step out, with the predators wandering in the area and charging at people at will.

Meanwhile, forest officials on Wednesday took up a door-to-door campaign to instil confidence among the villagers. Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Mandi district P.D. Dogra and Nawab Khan held a meeting with as many as 19 pradhans and local MLA Jairam Thakur to work out the next course of action. Residents have been told to take precaution while going out.

School-going children have been advised to move in groups accompanied by an adult. Houses lie scattered in Thunag, with the distance between one house and another being as far as 2 to 4 km. Officials have further asked residents to cut bushes around houses as they provide a safe haven for wild cats.

The felines, which can leap up to 20 feet, patiently wait for house inmates to emerge. Two persons were attacked thus recently, and one woman was killed. For the last three days there have been no incidents in the village, but a female leopard with a cub was spotted on Wednesday.

Traps laid

Officials have set up five cages to trap the animals. They have also installed 20 cameras on tree trunks to capture their movement round-the-clock. The wildlife census held in 2006 had identified 26 leopards, and since then, their number has multiplied. There are no natural prey for leopards in the jungle, which is the reason why they have turned to human habitation, Mr. Khan said.

Bravery lauded

Meanwhile, the Forest Department has ‘appreciated’ Mr. Khan's efforts to kill a man-eater. The DFO has extended a letter of appreciation to him for his act of “bravery and accomplishment”.

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