Chennai: Animal activists on Monday protested against the use of live bait to trap the Chengalpet leopard that has been causing a scare in Kancheepuram district, close to Chennai. Wildlife enthusiasts also made a plea to the foresters to leave the leopard alone as it was not a man-eater and check out whether the forest cover in Chengalpet could help the feline survive without causing hindrance to people or cattle.
“The sad part of the incident is the technique devised by forest officials. The foresters, who are supposed to save an animal, are adopting a cruel method by using a goat as live bait. This would be an untold ordeal for the goat,” said animal welfare officer Dr. Jerold of the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Upon receipt of an official communiqué from the AWBI, requesting the forest officials to refrain from using live bait, which is an offence under section 11 (d) (i) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, the forest officials took away the goat from the cage.
“There are advantages of using a live bait as the bleat of the animal attracts the predator. Live baits are used all over the world to trap wild animals, but in response to AWBI’s request, the live bait has been replaced by beef and mutton,” a forest official said.
“Camera traps have been brought in from Anamalai Tiger reserve and are being fixed at vantage points to track the leopard and entire forest patches in Chengalpet are under surveillance,” Chengalper ranger A Gopu said.
“Every animal has a right to live and if the Chengalpet hillocks can sustain the survival of a leopard it should be allowed to prowl the forests areas. In this case, the animal has attacked only livestock and compensation should be provided as per practice followed in the forest reserves. Keeping a live bait is trauma for the animal kept in the cage,” said K. G. Gowthaman, a wildlife enthusiast in Kancheepuram.