Revenue Minister K.P. Rajendran has directed the Forest officials to intensify efforts to trap leopards that have been straying into human-inhabited areas in Malakkappara.
During his visit to the areas on Sunday, the Minister said that the Forest officials had been directed to install four cages at various points believed to be frequented by leopards.
The colonies of tea estate workers at Malakkappara on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and nearby Valparai in Tamil Nadu are under constant fear as leopards have been frequently attacking domestic animals, including cattle and dogs.
The situation became worse after leopards killed two children recently at Thonimudi in Tamil Nadu, about 10 km from Malakkappara.
According to unofficial data, there are 30-odd leopards in and around Malakkappara area. Recently, Mambully Chandran, who runs a tea shop, was chased by a leopard.
Local residents said that leopards were being sighted near the villages even during daytime.
The Minister asked the Forest officials and the District Collector to study the issue and sent a proposal on the measures to be taken to mitigate the problem.
“Ministers and Subject Committee members of the Forest, Revenue and Fisheries Departments along with officials of various Departments will soon visit the area to find a lasting solution to the problem,” he said.
The Minister suggested installing emergency lamps in the colonies as the residents complained of frequent power disruptions in the area, making the situation worse. He also promised to take immediate steps to fill the vacancies of forest guards in the range.
S. Guruvayurappan, project officer and coordinator of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, said that the residents of the area and leopards had a peaceful coexistence till recently.
“The two attacks on children were in Valparai in Tamil Nadu. We suspect that the same leopard had attacked children in both cases.”
He suggested attaching microchips to the trapped leopards before leaving them to dense forest so that their movements could be traced later.
The Forest Minister said that steps had been completed to distribute forest land to 116 tribal families living in the area under the Forest Rights Act.
Keywords: Protection of wildlife