Environmentalists have demanded that the State government not issue a shoot-at-sight order against the man-eater leopard in Tumakuru district.
After visiting the family of the deceased girl, Chandana, at Baichenahalli on Sunday, Forest Minister Anand Singh said he would issue the kill order on Monday. Angered by this, environmentalist, T.V.N. Murthy asked the Minister how the leopard which killed the girl and three other persons in that area would be identified.
“If they shoot the wrong leopard, the behaviour of the other leopards living in that area will also change, and it may also disrupt the gender ratio of leopards. If they kill a mother leopard, then there is a possibility that the cubs of that mother will turn into man-eaters, or the cubs may die without food,” he said. He says shooting the feline would only worsen the situation.
Mr. Murthy said that no one has seen the leopard that has been attacking. “They are unnecessarily targeting leopards as man-eaters without conducting a detailed study to prove that all four persons were killed by leopards,” he said. He said locals had just heard the screams of the victims and then found their bodies. “It may have been a wolf, a bear or a leopard,” he said.
Lakshmamma, 60, of Bannikuppe village was found dead on October 17, 2019, while Anandaiah, 58, of Doddmaralavadi, which neighbours Bannikuppe, also died in a leopard attack on November 29, 2019. Samarth Gowda, 5, was killed in Manikuppe village of Gubbi taluk in Tumakuru district on January 10, 2020.
In all four cases, the leopard had not eaten the human flesh. Mr. Murthy said this was because the animal might have left because of the disturbance caused by the people who came in search of the victims. Most of the times, animals attack out of fear of being attacked, he explained.
Rampant stone quarrying in the buffer zone of forest areas and deemed forest areas in the district are forcing animals to stray into villages. Environmentalist Gundappa alleged that in the buffer zone of Devarayanadurga, stone quarrying was being done. Explosives are blasted during evenings, which disturb nocturnal animals like leopards, he said.
Because of this disturbance, they move into calmer areas such villages to live and in search of food. They kill stray dogs, goats, sheep and cows there. “The fields which grow ragi and pulses have now turned into lantana bushes and shrubs as farmers have started discarding agriculture. These fields have become nice hiding places for leopards and other animals,” he said.
Mr. Murthy urged the government to establish a leopard rehabilitation centre in Tumakuru. Such a centre will help save captured leopards and cubs and prevent attacks, he said.