Coimbatore: The forest department has installed a cage to trap the leopard that killed a 4-year-old boy in Nadumalai estate a couple of days ago in Valparai. He was the ninth person to be killed in Valparai during last 10 years. Except one, the others have been children. Four year-old Saidhul from Assam was dragged by leopard and mauled while he was playing alone in the backyard of the house at around 7 pm on Thursday.
Activists have listed valuable suggestions to government to avoid further man-animal conflict in Valparai, particularly leopard attacks. K.Kalidasan, president of Osai, a Coimbatore based NGO and a wildlife activist, told the DC that vacating the tea estate workers and land acquisition of estates are impossible for the time being. At the same time, human life is valuable and we cannot allow leopard attacks to continue. People of Valparai should learn to co-exist with the animals as it is a forest. The animals cannot be driven from there as it is their home, and they are already facing scarcity of territory. It is the responsibility of estate owners and government to take preventive measures. He said that many north Indian laborers are being deployed across the state due to their low wages. They are not familiar with the terrain and leopard population. It is the responsibility of tea estate owners to conduct frequent awareness camps on man-animal conflicts with the support of the forest department and NGOs. Vehicles should be arranged to pick up and drop estate workers.
It is better to establish a cluster of quarters for tea estate laborers. This should have solar fencing to prevent animals from entering. Sufficient lighting should be provided, unwanted weeds and bushes should be removed for a minimum 50 meters around the labor quarters.
At the same time, tea estate workers should follow instructions given by forest staff. They should not raise cattle and dogs as these attract leopards into human habitats. Estate workers found raising cattle and dogs should be fined heavily or given 3 months imprisonment. Meat shop owners and slaughter houses should bury their wastes instead of throwing them in the open near human habitats.
The leopard is not particular about its prey. It can survive by eating a few frogs, grasshoppers, rabbits, wild cats, rats and small birds. Children should not be allowed to play after 5 pm alone as leopards may regard small children as prey and charge them; this does not mean that the animal is a man eater.
Wine shops should be closed in the hills as in Thengumarahada village in Sathyamanagalam forest and Attapadai in Kerala to avoid alcoholics moving alone inside the forest late at night after a few drinks.
In Valparai, trapping the animal and relocating it will not work as another leopard will fill its place.
Feb 4, 2017- A one-year old cattle calf was killed and another of same age was injured in leopard attack in High forest estate in Valparai.
Feb 30, 2017- A 3-year old cattle calf was killed in Manampalli range in Solyar 3rd division.
April 8, 2017 – A 2-year old cattle calf was killed in full daylight in Vilonie estate.
August 1, 2017- A 2-year old cattle calf was killed in Nadumalai estate which was reported as the 4th incident within a span of 45 days in Valparai.
October 7, 2017- A pet dog was killed near Valparai town.