Residents of Hulikere and nearby areas report 20 sightings in a month
The plummeting water-level at Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) has prompted the Irrigation Department to stop releasing water into the reservoir-dependent canals. With the dried canals has come another consequence: leopards have been entering villages in search of drinking water.
The Forest Department has observed the big cats entering Hulikere, Hulikere Koppalu and surrounding villages in the taluk, looking for water and food — sheep. Area residents have spotted leopards on around 20 occasions in the past month.
“We have recorded pugmarks near water tanks in villages,” Mohammed Jaffer, Range Forest Officer (Mandya), told The Hindu.
Following the repeated sightings, the Forest Department has placed two cages at Hulikere and Hulikere Koppalu to trap the animals.
At the two villages, incidents of leopards entering cattle-sheds and killing sheep, goats, chicken and dogs have been reported. Residents are confining themselves to their houses after dusk.
Raghu, a farmer at Hulikere, claimed five leopards were roaming in the vicinity of Hulikere, Hulikere Koppalu, Mallenahalli and Thibbanahalli. He himself had seen an adult and two cubs near his fields, he said.
According to him, peacocks and foxes, which were common in the region until a few weeks ago, are barely to be seen now because of the leopards. Some dogs too have gone missing from the village, he said.
Mr. Jaffer, however, believes there are three leopards in the area.
Recently, forest officials visited Hulikere and interacted with the residents. Mr. Jaffer and his team also studied the movements of leopards based on the pugmarks.
“Three leopards, including two cubs, might have been wandering in the region,” he said.
The department has also deployed additional staff at the villages to monitor the movements of the animals. They would be shifted to forest once they were trapped, he added.