Bengaluru: Two days after a leopard was reportedly spotted in a eucalyptus grove behind Vibgyor High school in Thubarahalli village in Varthur, the hysteria seems to be wearing away. The local residents have started coming out of their houses, but the migrant workers living behind eucalyptus grove, where the wild cat was reportedly spotted, still dread going to work leaving behind their families.
The majority of workers, mainly from West Bengal and Odisha, are staying in makeshift houses in the vicinity. Ghulam, who runs a petty shop, told DC, “We are not sure whether the leopard was there or not. But, one of the migrant workers told us that he saw it. We are living in constant fear as we don’t have any clarity on it.”
The workers, who are employed as contract labourers in Domlur and nearby areas, are afraid to leave behind their family and children. One of the workers, Hassan, told DC, “I along with six others work as contract labourers in Domlur. Now due to the spotting of leopard, we are not going to work as while coming back it is dark. We also don’t want to put our families at risk.”
However, other local residents have started attending their respective workplaces. “Wednesday was a little frightful day for us as we were scared following the reports of the wild cat being spotted. We couldn’t completely ignore the rep orts as just two days ago on Sunday one leopard was found inside a school,” said Ajeeth, a resident of Varthur.
Dr Ravi Ralph, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), told DC, “The operation was called off on Wednesday itself, as no leopard was found in the area. A few local residents created unnecessary hysteria. I don’t deny that that the leopards don’t come. They do come as there is extensive vegetation just five kilometres away from Varthur, where the leopards are found roaming in the area. So, there will no further course of action in this regard.”
‘Don’t fall prey to rumours’
It is imperative for people to know the instincts of a leopard. “I urge the citizens not to pay heed to rumours and panic. Leopards usually come out in the night and leave by dawn. Most importantly, as soon as they sense a human presence they go back. If they are being surrounded by local residents, they would still not attack and would try to find an exit to run away. In rarest of the rare cases, when people pelt stones or scare him by using lathis or block the way, the leopard may attack,” said Dr. Ravi Ralph.
Schools did not consult us: Forest official
“People should not pay heed to rumours and first check the source of the news. As many as 128 schools were closed in the backdrop of the reports that two leopards were allegedly spotted on Tuesday night at two different places - one in Nallurahalli Park in the evening and the other behind the Vibgyor High school in Thurubarahalli on Tuesday night. The schools declared holidays without consulting the forest officials, hence increasing the tension. The schools should have remained open,” said a forest official.
‘If you see a big cat, don’t burst crackers’
Karnataka Forest Department has issued an advisory to allay the fears of the general public following the recent straying of a leopard into Vibgyor High school.
It has come up with a list of dos and don’ts.
- In the event of any leopard sighting, immediately call the forest and police officials. Let a safe passage for the animal to find its way back to where it came from.
- Bursting of crackers, stone pelting, shooting, flashing camera will lead to disorientation of the animal, forcing it to stray to nearby buildings.
- All schools should ensure they have grills fixed in bathroom windows and ventilators and no door should be left open.
- When a leopard is sighted, people should stay indoors and move only in groups. As the evening dawns, the leopard will find its way back without causing any harm to anybody.
- The Sunday rescue operation got precipitated due to swelling of crowd. The leopard got disoriented and ferocious. Continuous clicking of cameras and shouting by the public led to attacks.
With 75 private schools and 53 government schools in and around Marathahalli announcing holiday on Thursday, following leopard scare, the parents found it difficult to attend offices. They alleged that they were informed about the holiday very late in the evening. “Most of the schools even closed their day care centres, forcing us to stay at home. We did not make any arrangements to avail holiday. Some parents opted for work from home, but for the majority it was a terrible day,” said a parent, who wished to be anonymous. Meanwhile school managements have decided not to announce holiday on Friday, even if forest department is not able to trace the leopards.
- The boundary of Vibgyor High is being fenced with barbed wires
- The night security has been increased from two to 15 security personnel
- Big iron rods are being used to cover open ducts.
- Patrolling by the school security has been stepped-up