Authorities burst crackers to scare the animal, which was hiding in a culvert, into coming out

A leopard spotted at the abandoned premises of the Mandya National Paper Mills Ltd. at Belagola (Mandya district), near Mysore, was trapped by the Forest Department on Sunday at around 9.30 p.m.

The authorities burst crackers to scare the animal, which was hiding in a culvert, into coming out. The leopard was spotted by a shepherd who informed the department, following which personnel reached the spot with a cage trap.

Prayag, a veterinarian, who was at the spot, told The Hindu that the leopard had apparently killed a goat and was hiding in a 20-m-long culvert. The authorities sealed one end of the culvert and placed a cage trap with a dog as bait at the other end. It was pointed out that the landscape was highly suitable for leopards to survive and thrive as it was overgrown with vegetation. There was hardly any human presence as people only used the premises to graze their livestock.

‘Ideal habitation’

Dr. Prayag said that there was abundant livestock and water. Local people also dumped garbage in the area which attracted stray dogs. “Garbage that attracts stray dogs is the root of the problem,” said Dr. Prayag who called for greater public awareness on dealing with leopards as well as garbage disposal.

Mysore and surrounding areas had vast swathes of agricultural land and shrub jungles that served as perfect hideouts for leopards which were highly adaptable animals. In the last few years, 17 leopards had been trapped in and around Mysore.

He said that they seldom attacked humans unless they were cornered and provoked. “Leopards are not only solitary and territorial in nature but are also shy creatures, wary of human presence. It is better to leave them alone,” Dr. Prayag added.

Wildlife conservationists have, in the past, appealed to the public to not become hysterical on sighting a leopard. The authorities follow guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests while dealing with leopards. According to this, if a leopard is sighted, it should only be monitored.

There is a case for leopard capture and translocation only if there was conflict and it attacked humans.

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