The Jharkhand forest department has put over 50 trap cameras, one drone and a large number of officials but the ‘man-eater’ leopard, which killed four children since December 10 in Palamu division, is still traceless, an official said on Sunday.
Now, the department has roped in Hyderabad-based celebrated hunter Nawab Shafath Ali Khan to control the big cat. It is suspected that all four including three in Garhwa and one in Latehar district were killed by the same leopard. The victims are in the age group of six and 12 years.
The leopard has been reigning terror in more than 50 villages in three blocks — Ramkanda, Ranka and Bhandariya — of the district where villagers have been asked by the forest department not to venture out after sunset.
“We are spending sleepless nights in fear of the leopard. Women and children are mostly scared. It appears to be a curfew-like situation in the evening,” said Ravindra Prasad, a farmer of Ramkanda block. The Garhwa forest division had submitted a proposal to state Chief Wildlife Warden on Thursday to declare the big cat as man-eater and it has also suggested names of three hunters including Nawab Shafath Ali Khan and former legislator Girinath Singh.
State chief wildlife warden Sasikar Samanta told PTI, “There are some official formalities to declare an animal man-eater. Our first priority is to capture the leopard through tranquilization, which is possible only by experts. Therefore, we have consulted Nawab Shafath Ali Khan to help in our effort. He is not only an expert but also equipped with latest equipment to identify and control an animal.” Samanta, who is also Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), said that Khan is expected to arrive in first week of January. “If capturing was not possible, then we may think of killing the leopard as last option,” Samanta said.
Speaking to PTI, Khan confirmed that he was approached by state forest officials. “I was told to visit Jharkhand and help in monitoring and tranquilizing the leopard. However, I am yet to receive any official letter in this regard,” he said.
More than 50 trap cameras have been put up in possible route of the big cat in and around Kushwaha village where a 12-year-old boy was killed by the animal on December 28.
“The trap cameras have captured various animals in the region but leopard has not been traced yet. Besides trap cameras, we are also using drone cameras but it has also not found any trace of the leopard,” Garhwa Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Shashi Kumar told PTI.
He said that they would change the locations of the cameras on Sunday and made another effort to find the trace of it. “We have also ordered three cages from Meerut, which is likely to arrive by Sunday evening,” he said.
On December 10, the leopard reportedly made its first attack by killing a 12-year-old girl in Chipadohar area in the nearby Barwadih block of Latehar district. Then, six-year-old child was killed in Rodo village in Bhandariya block on December 14 in Garhwa district, while another six-year-old girl was killed by the leopard in Sevadih village in Ranka block on December 19 in the same district. PTI SAN RG
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