POLLACHI: In a significant development, tea estate workers along with members from all political parties in Valparai staged a road roko on Saturday after a 52-year-old estate woman worker was mauled to death by a leopard on Friday night near Kanchamalai in Valparai hills.
This was the fifth leopard attack incident in the last 22 days. People suspect a particular leopard to have turned into a man-eater that recently entered a human habitat on Feb 8 last and mauled a 4-year-old boy to death at Kanchamalai estate. However, the leopard was trapped and relocated to Mandhri mattam in Varagaliyaru range.
Notwithstanding this development, on Friday around 7.30 pm a leopard had attacked the woman worker Kaileshwari while she was busy washing clothes in front of her house. The leopard also dragged her into a nearby bush and mauled her on various parts including her neck.
Hearing her cries, neighbours came running, but the leopard killed her before they could rescue her. Seeing the crowd, the leopard ran away from the spot leaving Kaileshwari’s body, sources said.
On information Forest department officials along with police rushed to the spot and sent the body to Valaprai Government hospital for post-mortem.
Today, hundreds of tea estate workers and relatives of Kaileshwari led by various political party members thronged the Valparai hospital and staged a protest. They also staged a road-roko in front of the Valparai post office on Saturday, demanding to install a cage to trap the carnivore and relocate it, while few of them suspected it to be a tiger attack.
Forest department officials pacified the protestors promising to install a cage trap to relocate it, as well as few camera traps to confirm the movement of leopard.
K.Kalidasan-president of ‘Osai’ a Coimbatore based NGO told the DC, “possibilities are there for the animal to have turned into a man-eater; however a study should confirm it; during trapping, such animals blood samples or else their hair has to be collected for DNA test to confirm whether the same animal is returning back to its territory after relocating it.”
In Maharashtra, studies have proven that many tigers and leopard have returned to their territory after relocating them at a long distance. Relocating the carnivore is a temporary solution. However another young male could fill the space, he said.
Kalidasan also suggested a slew of measures for the tea estate owners including awareness programmes for estate workers, replacing the present quarters for the workers with new construction with larger number of houses and sufficient lighting arrangements, removing all the bushes around the quarters and installation of solar fencing around the quarters. Workers should also strictly abide by the instructions given by the Forest department in such areas, he said....