I am writing to express how disappointed I am with the stories, “Man-eater hunted down, Himachal villagers breathe easy” (Aug.12) and its accompanying photograph & “Tranquillising was not an option, says shikari” (Aug. 13). I am sure The Hindu is aware that most of Indian wildlife is endangered by deforestation, human encroachment on their habitat and appalling levels of conflict. None more so than the leopard.
Only dire necessity would have driven this animal into entering human habitation and becoming a maneater.
Killing or removing maneaters is a necessity but definitely not an occasion for grinning and posing for shikari-style photos, next to the trophy. Please consider the light in which you have portrayed a highly endangered animal: as a monster to be conquered and displayed.
It hardly makes sense for the daily to discuss wildlife conservation issues if you are simultaneously going to reinforce such archaic stereotypes.
It was a shock to read the reports that reminded us of British Raj valour. While it is sad that a few lives were lost due to this animal, we should ponder over the fact that a loss of habitat and disappearance of prey are the main reasons why big cats become maneaters.
Patience would have been the key to capturing this animal alive, which seems to be a majestic and full-grown one — seven feet and two inches. If in a zoo, it would have added value to the leopard gene pool. It defies logic that the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department chose to shoot down this animal by engaging the services of a professional hunter. With so many advances in technology in veterinary sciences, it could have been easily captured and relocated in a dense forest habitat.
Is this shikari on the regular roll of forest departments? The fact that he was summoned from his resort would have been at considerable expense. Who bore the fees he charged? The photograph is a sickening one and is a harbinger of what is in store for such hapless creatures. Even Jim Corbett, the famed shikari, would not have shot so many tigers and leopards if he had the tranquillising gun. We need answers from the Ministry of Environment and Forests which should formulate guidelines on shooting of animals even if in the public interest.