I was surprised to read the report “Man-eater hunted down, Himachal villagers breathe easy” (Aug. 12). The first issue is the title given to Nawab Shafat Ali Khan — “licensed hunter.” Secondly, when an endangered animal like a leopard becomes dangerous (because its habitat and prey base have been degraded by encroaching humans), the first step is to try and tranquilise and rehabilitate it.
Both these issues appear to have been ignored. A seven-foot leopard is large — a prized specimen which any government would normally like to see alive, pacing through the forest.
Why are we publishing sensational reports instead of decrying the base issue — that of habitat and environmental degradation?
That a leopard was killed in cold blood was unfortunate. The reason was the same as the one always given — that the animal entered a human settlement and turned into a man-eater. More unfortunate is the fact that a “famous hunter” was called all the way from south India to kill the animal. Is killing the only solution to deal with man-eaters? The leopard could have been captured and released deep in the jungle.
It is well known that State forest departments are almost defunct with inadequate manpower and no resources at their disposal. They still follow the 18th century British methods of forest management. Rather than pose with dead animals for pictures, energy and efforts should be made to make our forests a better place for their inhabitants, so that hungry animals don’t head towards human settlements for food.