Scientific study sought to deal with leopard menace in Talavadi Hills

Workers removing bushes at the abandoned quarry in Talavadi in Erode district.

Workers removing bushes at the abandoned quarry in Talavadi in Erode district. | Photo Credit: M. GOVARTHAN

People in the villages located near Talavadi Forest Range in Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR) demand that the defunct quarries, used by leopards as a hideout to hunt their prey, be closed permanently. They also sought a scientific approach to deal with the leopards that have killed their cows recently.

As many as nine abandoned quarries are located near the forest area that remains non-functional after their licensing period ended. Presence of bushes, large boulders and pits in the quarries turn as hideouts for the leopards that enter villages and hunt domestic dogs, cows and other cattle. Such incidents have been frequent in the last three years.

On June 14, the carcass of a cow was found at a quarry near Hosur n Talavadi town causing panic among the people. Pug marks confirmed the presence of a three-year-old male leopard and efforts to trap it using a cage failed. Based on the instructions from the Forest Department, the quarry owner began work to clear the bushes.

But the local people said the quarry is spread across five acres and removing the bushes by five workers every day would not yield any result. “It may take at least three or four months for the workers to clear the bushes which is not a solution,” said Babu, a resident of Hosur. He said that big boulders and pits were the hideouts and nothing was done to address the issue.

“We are disappointed by the Forest Department’s action,” he said and wanted the quarry to be closed completely or a fence be erected. Another resident Mahesh, whose house is located less than 100 metres from the quarry, said his family was not venturing out from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. fearing the leopard attack.

S. Manickam, coordinator of Talavadi Taluk Farmers’ Association, said leopards had almost entered Talavadi town now and wanted a permanent solution to the issue. Sources said that at least 25 leopard attacks had taken place in the last few years. Officials ruled out fencing or closing the quarries that might involve huge cost and added that they were bursting crackers and disturbing their hideouts to make leopards re-enter the forest area.

Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director of STR, S. Ramasubramanian told  The Hindu leopards preferred to live in abandoned quarries and steps were taken to drive them away. He said that apart from drone surveillance, personnel maintained round-the-clock vigil in quarries.

Kannaiyan Subramaniyam, convener of Talavadi Farmers’ Association, said clearing bushes was not a solution. “Scientific study should be carried out to know whether relocated leopards or leopards that were involved in earlier conflicts were hiding in the quarry,” he said. The farmer said that conflict should be addressed scientifically and the Forest Department should not deviate from the standard operating procedures (SOP) as laid down by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). 

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2022 11:52:01 pm |