Tumakuru: As forest officials maintain a soft stance for killer leopards in Tumakuru, another incident of leopard strike has been reported in the district after a gap of eight months. Bhagya, 35, from Kunigal taluk on Thursday is the fifth victim to fall prey to the series of leopard attacks in the district in a year’s time.
Bhagya was grazing in a field when she was attacked by a leopard at Manikuppe and her body was found near a bush. Similar incidents of people getting mauled by leopards have been reported in Bannikuppe village. A five year old boy fell victim to a leopard in Kunigal taluk in January this year.
A forest official in Tumakuru said that leopard attacks had taken place intermittently but there is pressure on the senior officials not to shoot down killer leopards.
Reacting to the issue, Minister for Forests and Environment Anand Singh told Deccan Chronicle on Friday that he had to face severe criticism from some wildlife groups over issuing shoot at sight order to eliminate four killer leopards in Tumakuru last February. He, however, assured to look into the loss of human lives with a pragmatic approach and take necessary actions.
A similar conflict situation prevailed in Kadur, Chikkamagaluru in 1996 when three humans were killed by leopards and then as many as 33 leopards were shot dead to reduce the conflict there. Now, the population of leopards has recovered in Kadur.
Sources in forest department share information that wildlife conservationists wanted killer leopards to be eliminated to save human lives in Tumakuru but senior forest officials did not risk issuing shoot at sight order fearing outrage by animal right groups. They said that senior forest officials in Bengaluru are under pressure from politicians like Maneka Gandhi among others to not to shoot killer leopards.
Sources added that elimination of couple of troublesome leopards in no way affects their population. Moreover, delay in acting on killer leopards will lead to losing the confidence of local people, which would hamper conservation efforts in Tumakuru.
Meanwhile, Deputy Conservator of Forests Girish said efforts are underway to get the leopard trapped in a cage or capture it through tranquilization....