Sunday, February 21, 2010

18 leopards killed in three years, but fear still stalks villagers in Indian district

CHANDIGARH - Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chander Shekhar Sharma - Hamirpur

As many as 18 leopards have been killed in the past three years, but the fear still stalks the villagers of nearly 1,619 villages of the district, courtesy the deadly leopards. The situation has reached such a pass that people don't venture out after the sunset.

They carry their children to schools and bring them home to save the children from the wrath of the deadly prowlers. No area of the district is without the leopard menace and in fact Hamirpur district is to be dubbed as one of the leopard infested districts of the State.

The terror created by the leopards has annoyed all and the villagers have approached local MLA and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal to take necessary steps to save them from these wild animals. Dhumal has issued strict instructions to the Forest Department officials to help the people save them from the wrath of the wild animal.

There are about 50 leopards in the district as per the last census.

"The fresh census is to take place shortly," said Sanjay Sood, Hamirpur Divisional Forest Officer. As many as 18 leopards have lost their lives in the district during the last three years. These include two that became victims to the designs of the poachers. The poachers were yet to be identified as they had removed the nail and other vital organs of the animals.

While local alleges that these leopards have come from Nepal through the high mountains, the department disputes the claim. The department sources say that leopards were in existence in the area since time immemorial and there is no question of their coming to the area from other parts of world.

The Forest Department has also been able to catch hold of three leopards that were harming the cause of the people. These leopards have been sent to Gopalapur zoo (Kangra district). DFO said that the department is abreast of the reign of terror created by the leopards in the district. It comes to action as and when it gets the reports of any attacks by them.

Forest and Wildlife chief conservator Sanjeev Pande Himachal Pradesh told The Pioneer that the department was seized of the situation created by the leopards in various parts of the State.

He said that since leopard is precious specie of animals, no one was authorised to kill that. However, if it turns man-eater, the department gives permission for its killing and such things had happened in the State in the recent past.


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