POKHARA/TANAHUN, Jan 7: On Sunday, an eight-year-old boy Pujan Sinjali was attacked by a leopard in Aanbu Khaireni Rural Municipality-8 in Tanahun district. The boy was attacked by the leopard when he was returning home from his maternal uncle's house.
Lately, such cases have been regularly recorded in the district. The statistics compiled by the District Forest Office, Tanahun, shows that a total of eight children have lost their lives in leopard attacks in the district since mid-March, 2018. Likewise, four children were injured in the attacks in this period.
Of the deceased children, six are the residents of Bhanu Municipality-6. Likewise, the two others are from Suklagandaki Municipality and Aanbu Khaireni Municipality, respectively.
Meanwhile, locals have been setting up cage traps to stop leopard attacks in the village. Despite efforts from the locals, attacks on children have not declined in the region.
“Despite our efforts, leopard attacks have not declined. There have been attacks on humans at several places,” said Arjun Bahadur KC, chairperson of Bhanu Municipality-2, adding that the locals are terrified by the leopard attacks on humans. He further added that the locals are terrified to come out of their houses in the evening.
According to KC, the attacks on humans have been increasing in recent times due to the lack of prey in the jungle. As leopards are entering human settlements in search of prey, children are at high risk of attacks, he added.
“The number of animals has decreased in the jungle. Also, locals don't take their cattle to graze in jungles. So, leopards have been entering human settlements in search of prey,” KC said, adding that leopards entering the settlements search for animals such as dogs, cows, among others as their prey. “After the leopards don't find these animals, they attack humans. As children are easy to attack, the cases of leopard attacks have been on the rise,” he added.
Likewise, there are dense jungles near human settlements – a major reason behind the increasing number of leopard attacks.
“Despite being dense, forests in the region don't have enough prey for leopards. And, the stay of monkeys in the jungle is temporary,” KC said, adding that locals have been rearing cattle in a modern way, so the number of prey has declined for leopards in the region.
“The instances of leopard attacks are mostly recorded in the evenings. So, we have suggested to the locals to stay on alert during evenings,” KC said, adding that Bhanu Municipality has set up cage traps in ward numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 to reduce the increasing instances of leopard attacks. A total of six leopards have been trapped in the cages already, according to him.
Likewise, Kedar Baral, forest officer of Tanahu, said that nine cages have been set up in Bhanu Municipality. “The attacks have declined in Bhanu Municipality, but the instances of leopard attacks in the neighboring areas are increasing,” Baral said, adding that preys – deer, rabbits, spotted deer, among others – are displaced from jungles.
Following the increasing instances of attacks, the local administration has directed locals to kill leopards – if they enter human settlements. The District Administration Office, Tanahu, as per Section 9(4) of the Local Administration Act (1971), directed the locals to kill leopards and hand them over to the Division Forest Office, Tanahu.
Meanwhile, there have been preparations to mobilize a team of Armed Police Force (APF) in Aanbu Khaireni. The government provided Rs 1 million each to the kin of the victims as relief, Baral added.