Camera installed in a jungle to monitor leopard. Photo: Republica
TANAHUN, Dec 8: Locals of Dhalkeshwar village in Bhanu Municipality are panicked after two children were mauled recently by leopard(s) in a span of 17 days. They are not sure if the same leopard killed both of them. Leopards have been terrorizing the region for a long time. This human-wildlife conflict has continued unabated.
“Leopard menace has terrorized our villages. They are killing humans,” said Arjun KC, chairperson of Bhanu Rural Municipality - 2. “Just recently they killed two children.”
The locals are highly fearful, especially for venturing out their homes after dusk. Except during an emergency, they do not get out of their homes in the evening.
“You never know when and where you will encounter the man-eater,” KC said.
Every year, leopard has been killing and injuring people. A four-year-old Ranjita Lamsal, who was attacked by a leopard, had succumbed to her injuries three weeks ago.
“We have not been able to take proper measures against it. We need a long-term solution. Leopards storm in from nowhere and we do not feel safe even at our homes,” KC said.
According to the locals, there might be more than one man-eater leopard in or around the municipality. After they requested the local administration, search for the beast(s) has been intensified. Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force have been deployed for the search. Staff of the forest department and locals have been helping the search teams.
“The search is going on for the last one week. Let’s see,” said KC.
According to Kedar Baral, chief of the Division Forest Office, Tanahun, they have taken long and short-term measures to combat human-wildlife conflict. However, that has not been effective, he admits.
“The shrinking forests and expanding human settlements have invited such tensions. Leopards are not man-eater by nature. But here, it seems some have turned into man-eaters,” he said.
He added that such a leopard has not been spotted despite an intense search by the security forces.
“Army, police, locals, our staff, all are trying hard. The teams have been looking at every nook and corner, but there is no sign of the man-eater,” he stated.
Majhuwa community forest has been identified as the place most visited by leopards.
The teams with necessary tools have been actively searching for leopards there.
“The teams are well prepared. We have intensified search at many places, but Majhuwa community forest has been our prime target,” Baral said.
Ward number two, three and four of the municipality have been greatly disturbed by leopards. The local authorities have fixed CCTV cameras at many places to spot the animals.
“We have installed four power cameras. Other small cameras have also been fixed at many places,” Baral informed.
According to him, those high-quality cameras were brought from National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Kathmandu. They have sensors with high capacity and better focus.
Following leopard attacks, locals have started to keep their settlements free from bushes. Sometimes, they even patrol at nights. They have also started keeping the windows and doors closed.
“We have cleared the bushes fearing that leopards and other animals might hide there,” KC said. “Leopards have created havoc in our ward and some other wards.”
According to Bharat Kumar Sharma, CDO of Tanahun district, certain measures have been taken for people’s safety. Even teams with tranquilizer darts have been deployed. “We are very much serious about the issue. There have been a few accidents already. We want to prevent further loss of human life.
“We are not going to rest until and unless the man-eater is captured,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Maya Devi Adhikari, a local of Bhanu Municipality - 3 pleaded for better security. Stating that a few children have already been victims, she urged the government to fix enough lights and technologies in sensitive areas.
“In winter, it gets dark at around 5 pm. There is hardly any street light along the way. We feel very scared,” she said. “We would feel safer if they deploy more forces and there are lights around,” she added.
Though forest officials believe in capturing the leopards and transferring them elsewhere, furious locals are trying to kill the leopards by setting up traps in several places. They say they will simply kill the beasts that trouble them.
“We cannot let them go, they are very dangerous. We have decided to finish them off if found,” said Dal Narayan Shrestha, chairperson of Bhanu Municipality-3.