POLLACHI: In a significant development, tea estate workers staged a protest, boycotting their work in Valparai on Saturday demanding necessary protection from frequent leopard attacks.
They also demanded to install a cage and relocate the leopard. Manampalli ranger R.G. Sekar told the DC, Chandramathi, 45, estate worker residing at Cinchona estate 1st division was busy washing her vessels at the backyard of her house on Friday night, when a leopard from the bush jumped over and started to attack Chandramathi's in which her right leg was injured. This is recorded as the third leopard attack incident within a span of 45 days.
Hearing the cries of poor Chandramathi, her neighbors ran to her rescue, chased away the leopard and rushed her to the Pollachi government hospital. In a similar incident, a girl was injured in leopard attack on May 25 near Periya-Kallar estate and the poor girl is also being treated in the same hospital.
Meanwhile, around 100 estate workers boycotted their work and besieged the State-run Tantea office on Saturday, demanding to install a cage and trap the leopard to relocate it.
The protest was withdrawn after Manampalli ranger and department officials pacified the protestors promising to take necessary action and safety measures.
''Human population in Valparai is increasing day by day; leopards are also struggling due to scarcity of territory, forest belongs to animals, human encroach their habitat and claim 'human habitat' which by itself is a controversy, though human life is valuable," sources explained.
"The estate workers never follow the instructions given by the Forest department. they never stopped raising cattle and dogs when Forest department had strictly passed an instruction not to venture alone after 6 pm even it may be their backyard," the sources pointed out.
Nonetheless, on humanitarian considerations, bushes will be cleared around the estate quarters with the help of Tantea manpower, even as sufficient lighting arrangements are advised at the backyard of estate quarters, sources said.
"We have installed camera traps to confirm the movement of leopard; a team of anti-poaching watchers have been deployed at suspected spots and as of now there is no idea of installing a cage," added the helpless official.