Более 15 леопардов было убито в прошлом году местными жителями с карательной целью в штате Махараштра.
По данным Индийского общества охраны дикой природы в штате Махараштра в 2015 году было обнаружено 38 мертвых леопардов. 11 из них стали жертвами ДТП, включая наезд поезда, а более 15 были убиты местными жителями с целью самозащиты и в отместку за нападения на скот и людей.
Чиновники лесного хозяйства отмечают, что большинство случаев гибели леопардов, как в целом по стране, так и в штате Махараштра, происходят из-за склонности населения принимать ответные меры в связи с растущим страхом перед нападениями леопардов.
Джит Сингх, главный хранитель леса района Пуне, сказал: "В большинстве случаев леопардов убивают местные жители. Были отмечены случаи, когда им подкладывали отравленные туши убитых животных, в результате чего погибали не только леопарды, но и другие хищники. Причем туши погибших леопардов не используются населением для контрабандных целей и остаются лежать на месте."
Все это происходит, несмотря на то, что государство выделяет 800 тысяч рупий семье погибшего от зубов леопарда.
В 2015 году в шт. Махараштра леопарды загрызли несколько человек. В районе Пещер Джуннара в результате нападения леопарда в апреле и мае погибли двое детей. Третий ребенок выжил, но получил травмы. Взрослым удалось отбить ребенка от хищника.
Характерно, что несмотря на обилие коз и коров вокруг, леопард был ориентирован именно на детей.
Несколько нападений на людей отмечены в поселке Манджари в 15 км от города Пуна. Последнее нападение на женщину произошло в январе 2016 года районе Пещер Джуннара.
Эксперты отмечают аномальное поведение леопардов. Они нападали на детей не с целью их поедания. Ведь тела детей находили не съеденными.
В 2014 году в шт. Махараштра леопарды загрызли насмерть трех человек, в том числе женщину в деревне Пангари. А всего в 2014 году было 14 нападений леопардов на людей.
Только в окрестностях Пещер Джуннара в 2014 году было зафиксировано 43 случая нападения леопардов на скот.
Кроме коз и коров леопарды регулярно охотятся на собак.
Обычно леопарды укрываются в зарослях сахарного тростника, где работают люди.
После всех этих случаев чиновники установили ловушки и им удалось поймать в них 5 леопардов. Причем некоторые клетки были установлены прямо рядом с домами сельских жителей.
Чиновники призывают население передвигаться по местности только группами. Однако местные жители заявляют, что это невозможно и требуют не отлавливать леопардов, а отстреливать.
Чиновники провели несколько совещаний, на которых были разработаны меры по защите населения от леопардов. Было предложено построить стены вокруг коровников, туалетов и колодцев, провести электричество в не электрифицированные деревни, бесперебойно снабжать деревни электроэнергией, а также построить туалеты, там, где их нет. Было внесено предложение отслеживать передвижение леопардов с помощью радиопередатчиков закрепленных на ошейниках.
Для того, чтобы избежать конфликтов и уничтожения леопардов жителями, с населением постоянно проводятся воспитательные беседы.
Leopard attacks: Big cats on the prowl, villagers cower in fear
Junnar taluka worst hit; locals threaten to intensify stir after two children killed and one injured in a span of three weeks.
Forest officials taking a leopard trapped in a cage at Dingore to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre. (Source: Express Photo by Chandan Haygunde)
Days after the state forest department trapped a leopard in a cage at Dingore village of Junnar taluka in Pune district, fear continues to reign among villagers who have threatened to intensify the agitation they started last week.
The villagers have been living with the fear of leopard threat for years now. After the death of two children and injury to one in separate incidents of leopard attacks in a span of just three weeks in the region, villagers — particularly living under the Otur range of Junnar forest division — are spending sleepless nights.
Meanwhile, forest officials and wildlife experts have been stumped by the behaviour of the leopards. Despite the cattle around, leopard picked up two-and-a-half-year old Sai Mandlik on May 3 when his family members were sitting together at their house in Dingore village and he was playing nearby around 10:30 pm.
“We were all stunned. There were cows and goats around but the leopard targeted the little boy. We cried for help and with the help of villagers found Sai’s body at the banana farm nearby,” said the boy’s father Santosh Mandlik.
On April 17 around 5 am, five-year-old Praveen Devaram Dudhpade was picked up by a leopard from his grandfather Haribhau Mengal’s house at an isolated area in Khamundi village. There were goats around, but the leopard attacked the boy.
“There was a power cut and I had left home for farm work. Praveen’s grandmother had also left home for some work. Praveen woke up and followed her and that is when he was attacked by a leopard. After sometime we found his body in the bushes,” said Haribhau.
The same day, a leopard also attacked three-year-old Renuka Gopal Waghmare around 4 am when she was fast asleep under a tamrind tree with her family. However, her father and others at the spot managed to rescue her. She suffered injuries on her neck.
The series of attacks by leopards on children have made the wildlife experts think about the possibility of leopards behaving abnormally.
“It is strange that the leopards did not attack the cattle at the spot and picked up kids from their houses in the presence of their family members. Since the leopards did not eat these kids, we feel that food was not the motive behind these attacks. This hints at abnormal behavior of leopards,” said Dr Ajay Deshmukh, veterinary officer, Wildlife SOS that runs the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Junnar.
“Leopards do live near human settlements like in Junnar area where they get a proper habitat with water, sugarcane and banana farms and ample prey like dogs and cattle. Usually leopards are afraid of human beings. There have been incidents of leopard attacks on human beings in the past, but they are very less as compared to the attacks on animals,” he added.
As per the figure obtained from the forest department, there have been as many as 14 incidents of leopard attack on human beings since January last year. Three persons, including a woman from Pangari village, were killed in these incidents. The number of leopard attacks on cattle and other animals is significantly high.
In Otur range, one of the seven ranges under Junnar division, there have been 43 incidents of leopard attack on cattle in the past one year.
Wild life expert Vidya Atre, who visited Junnar villages in the view of leopard attacks, said, “Leopards live near human settlements, but they rarely attack human beings. So the killings of children in these attacks is surprising.” Atre said there is fear among villagers but capturing leopards and relocating them is not a solution. “In India, we have seen wildlife existing with human beings since ages. However, we do not have a policy for wildlife outside protected areas. Such a policy is must. Awareness among people will reduce the conflict between humans and animals,” said Atre.
Villagers demand action
Leopard attacks have created fear psychosis among villagers. “A girl was attacked by a leopard in our village in February too. She survived, but the attacks continued. It seems these leopards are man eaters…. Earlier, the villagers ventured out till late in the night. However, now there is no one to be seen after the sunset,” said Yogesh Lohote, a youth from Dingore.
The forest department has placed cages at strategic locations in Dingore. A leopard was trapped in one of the cages and was taken to Manikdoh on Thursday. “Number of leopard attacks on human beings is on the rise. We believe there are over five such leopards here. Only one has been trapped and the problem still persists..,” said a villager.
In Khamundi, people are upset as the forest department has shifted cages to trap leopards. Only one cage has been placed near Haribhu house.
“For a couple of days after the leopard attack, forest officials were deployed and a cage was placed to catch the leopard. However, with no prey in the cage and no forest guards around, we wonder how any leopard will be caught,” said villager Arjun Bodke.
Otur range forest officer S S Raghavan said, “We had to shift the cages to Dingore as the situation was serious there. It worked well for us as we managed to trap a leopard. We cannot confirm whether it’s the same leopard which killed children… Patrolling teams equipped with guns and tranquilizers have been deployed at important spots. We get several calls of leopard sighting, but we have limited manpower. Sometimes we also get fake calls of leopards attacking people. Lot of energy and time is wasted in working on such bogus calls.”
The forest department has put up boards in the area asking people to take precautionary measures like moving in groups, to avoid sleeping in open space and carrying a stick for self-defence.
“Leopard attacks on children have taken place in the dark, especially during load shedding hours. The forest officers say we should move in groups but it is practically not possible to go everywhere in groups. We want the government to give us uninterrupted single phase electricity supply during the night. It will keep the leopards away from our houses during the night,” said village sarpanch Ganpat Kokate.
During a meeting between a local MLA and government officers, villagers demanded that forest officials should ‘shot dead’ the ‘maneater’ leopards. People said that attacks on human beings by leopards in Junnar division have increased. But forest officers and wild life experts said these leopards cannot be called maneaters at this stage.
The government has formed a committee of forest officers, wild life experts and officials of the government departments to study the cases of leopard attacks and come up with temporary as well as long-term solution to address the problem.
Divisional forest officer Vitthal Dhokte said the committee is expected to decide the “carrying capacity” of leopards in particular region, give recommendations on the need for special squads comprising trained officials from the forest department and identify villages prone to leopard attacks.
“This is a much deeper and complex problem. The committee will give its recommendations to address the problem. It needs involvement of not just forest department but also other departments like police, agriculture, electricity board etc.,” said Vidya Atre, who is a member of the committee.
District collector Saurah Rao is likely to hold a meeting with the committee members on Monday.
During his earlier meetings, Rao had asked his officers to take necessary steps to prevent leopard attacks.
It included measures like construction of protection walls around cow sheds, fencing walls around wells and toilets in every household and giving uninterrupted single phase electricity to villages.
Man vs leopards conflict: Pune forest officials step in
Officials blame death of leopards on retaliation, plan to educate villagers.
As per the Wildlife Protection Society of India data, in 2015, Maharashtra has seen 38 death of leopards till now. Retaliatory killing is considered to be the main reason behind the death of over 15 leopards. Over 11 of them are said to have died due to train or vehicle hits. (Source: Express photo)
The recent case of a leopard being poisoned by a man and his subsequent arrest indicates how vulnerable the animals are in the forests of Pune district. And now, the forest officials are trying to keep a tab on the number of surviving leopards and take stock of the rising man-animal conflicts in the villages adjoining the forest areas.
In a bid to avoid such conflicts, they are trying to educate the villagers why one shouldn’t disturb the wildlife in the area.
Forest officials and experts have observed that majority of unnatural deaths of leopards in the state, including those in Pune district, are primarily due to man’s tendency to retaliate due to the growing fear of leopard attacks.
Jeet Singh, Chief Conservator of Forest (Territorial) Pune said, “Most cases of leopard deaths that we have come across are of retaliatory nature, wherein the villagers have tried to take revenge of the losses incurred due to attacks by leopards. It has been observed that the villagers put poison on the carcasses of dead livestock. Leopards consume the livestock and die due to poisoning as do several other carnivorous animals.”
“These killings have man-animal conflict and revenge at its core and not much of smuggling as a motive. The forest department gives adequate compensation in leopard attacks. In fact, Rs 8 lakh is given as compensation to the family for the loss of life of a human being. However, retaliation continues. We are trying to spread awareness about this issue at the local level.” said Athreya.
In areas like Junnar, incidents of leopard killing human beings have been witnessed recently. Two children were killed in Junnar in leopard attack in April-May 2015. Subsequently, the forest department managed to trap a few leopards in cages. Leopard attacks were also reported in Shirur and Manjari, which is just over 15 km from Pune city.
The department had also alerted people about movements of leopards in Sinhagad area.
The growing leopard attacks have caused fear among the people. The damage they suffer due to loss of livestock in such attacks has also upset them. Experts say that such situation increases conflict between man and leopard. As per records obtained from the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), there have been as many as five unnatural deaths of leopards in Pune district in 2015.
As per the WPSI data, in 2015, Maharashtra has seen 38 death of leopards till now. Retaliatory killing is considered to be the main reason behind the killings of over 15 leopards. Deaths of over 11 of them have occurred due to train or vehicle hits.
Leopards on the prowl in Junnar
The dense sugarcane fields of Junnar and Akole taluka of Ahmednagar district for long have housed the big cats who have developed a highly complex life cycle living cheek-by-jowl to human beings.
Junnar is back in the news for another human-animal conflict, in which a leopard attacked a woman last month.
THE cane season for Junnar taluka in Pune district is synonymous with increased sighting of leopards as well an increase in the incidents of human-animal conflict. The dense sugarcane fields of Junnar and Akole taluka of Ahmednagar district for long have housed the big cats who have developed a highly complex life cycle living cheek-by-jowl to human beings.
Junnar is back in the news for another human-animal conflict, in which a leopard attacked a woman last month. Since then, despite the best efforts of wildlife officials, leopards remains at large, creating fear in the minds of villagers.
This apart, there have been numerous incidents of the big cat attacking livestock or stray sightings of the animal. Last year, such conflicts had peaked during May-June which had caused panic across the area.
Dr Ajay Deshmukh of the Manikdoh Animal Rescue Center said that although human-animal conflicts are reported throughout the year, they tend to increase between the months of September and April. “Sugar mills start their operations during September and stop in the month of April. As leopards stay in the thick of cane fields they tend to get displaced during such time and as a consequence, sightings and conflict increase,” he said.
Leopards in cane fields are a unique phenomenon in Junnar and neighbouring region, with the big cat developing a new lifestyle. The cane fields gives them cover, while the stray dogs, livestock and other animals act as their food. In fact, researchers have documented how leopards manage to complete their whole lifecycle including giving birth to young ones, just metres away from the hustle and bustle of civilisation with hardly any clue to their human neighbours.
As mentioned by Deshmukh, human-animal conflict tends to rise during the cane crushing season, when the cane is harvested. Disturbance of their habitats is the main reason for the animals coming in conflict of humans. This year, Deshmukh said, numerous steps are taken to ensure such conflicts are avoided.
“We have carried out awareness drives in villages, schools about how to avoid such conflicts. Pamphlets have been distributed as well as cages been put up in areas where such conflicts were reported,” he said. Other than helping to build confidence, these measures, he said, will help in resolving the problem during the peak time.
However the real solution to the problem, Deshmukh said, was to take long term measures which have been recommended by experts. “Construction of toilet blocks to prevent open defecation would help in reducing the problem. Also, it has been suggested that the animal sheds be covered,” he said. Another suggestion which can help in addressing the problem would be setting up of a special monitoring team which would track the movements of the animals through radio collar.
Is a man-eater on the prowl in Junnar?
PUNE: Two back to back leopard attacks on children in villages that are only 15 km apart have perplexed experts who find the pattern strange.
"It is unusual for a leopard to be carrying out predatory attacks on children in this way. It is strange that livestock or adults have not been attacked. The two villages are only 15 km away from one another so we are trying to find out if it is the same animal," said V A Dhokte, deputy conservator of forests of Junnar.
Dhokte said that pugmarks have been found at both sites. The experts will now be called in to check if they belong to the same animal. Traps have also been set at both places to capture the animal, in case, it returns.
Vidya Athreya, a biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India, who has been studying the subject of man-leopard conflict in the region for over a decade, said that it was possible that the same animal is involved in both attacks.
"The question of why a leopard would start attacking children in this way is harder to answer. This is certainly abnormal behaviour for leopards, which are usually shy and secretive animals," Athreya said, adding that if the animal is indeed captured, it should not be released in the wild, which is also specified in the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
A decade ago, there had been a major rise in predatory attacks by leopards in Junnar and in the vicinity of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. Athreya believes that the attacks were a result of a large-scale capture and re-release programme carried out by the forest department back then. The increased aggression of leopards could be a fall out of increased territorial conflicts amongst them after they were released in newer areas.
"About 10 years ago we did come across incidents of leopards attack on humans. That does not appear to be the case this time around. The act of attacking humans is an aberrant behaviour on part of the leopards, but this is the symptom not the cause of the problem," Athreya emphasized.
Across the world there isn't much information available to determine what causes large carnivores to turn man-eaters, but certain studies have provided some leads. Citing an example, Athreya said that research at the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University had found a co-relation between hunting and incidents of attacks by mountain lions on humans.
"A separate study carried out in the Russian Far East on tiger attacks on humans had found that most of the attacks had been provoked. For instance, if a tiger had lost a member of its family to hunters, it was likely to turn aggressive and attack humans," she added.