Forest Department uses tech to trap elusive killer leopard
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Forest Department uses tech to trap elusive killer leopard

January 24, 2023

Same feline suspected in three cases including Horalahalli where a 11-year-old boy was killed

Mysuru: With the threat of leopard attack returning to haunt villagers in T. Narasipur taluk, especially after a 11-year-old boy was killed by the big cat at Horalahalli on Jan. 21, the Forest Department has stepped up its operation to trap the elusive animal with the help of technology.

Using Google Map, Forest personnel have installed camera traps to keep track of the leopard, as there are growing suspicions over the same leopard claiming three lives in recent months in different parts of T. Narasipur taluk.

This follows back-to-back incidents of leopard attacks that forced Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to direct the authorities to form Special Squads to trap the animal. Acting on the same, Deputy Commissioner Dr. K. V. Rajendra discussed the issue with Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF, Wildlife) and issued shoot-at-sight orders on the leopard.

On Jan. 21, Jayanth (11) of Horalahalli went out of the house to a nearby shop, when he was attacked and killed by the leopard. On Jan. 20, 60-year-old Siddamma was killed by a leopard when she went to fetch firewood from the backyard of her house at Kannayakanahalli.

Prior to that,  Manjunath and Meghana were killed in leopard attacks causing a huge public outrage.

As these incidents were reported within the radius of 1.5 km, the experts who came out with the findings with the help of Google Map, believe that the ‘same leopard’ was involved in these cases.

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However, the movement of the leopard is not caught on cameras installed near these places, unlike in the case of 20-year-old Manjunath of M.L. Hundi who was killed in the leopard attack at Mallikarjuna Hill on Oct.31, 2022, where the movement of leopard was caught on a camera trap. This leopard was finally trapped in the cage set up by the Forest Department and shifted it to Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) in Bengaluru.

Hence, specific instructions are issued by the Forest Department to identify the features of the leopard. Hence four camera traps have been installed around the place where Jayanth’s body was found, while 12 camera traps are installed near the place where Siddamma’s body                                      was found. 

That apart, five to six cages are placed, as it is planned to replicate the idea of setting up a huge cage like in the case of Mallikarjuna Hill (where Manjunath of M. L. Hundi was killed). The cage brought from Tumakuru was put up and camouflaged like a cowshed with hay and grass to trap the animal.

Clear bushes

On the other hand, villagers have requested authorities to clear weeds and shrubs that have overgrown on vast tracts of land in several villages including Horalahalli where Jayanth was killed by the leopard. The bushes including lantana and other types of weeds and shrubs in these land have become mini forests where leopards hide after attacking the people. The villagers have urged the Forest authorities to serve notice to these land owners to clear the bushes.

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Adequate measures have been taken to trap the leopard that has created havoc at various villages in T. Narasipur taluk. The operation involving over 120 Forest personnel has been launched along with placing cages and installing camera traps at various places. A team including sharp shooters and veterinarians have been deputed on the spot. Awareness is also being created among the villagers against stepping out of their houses in evening hours. A report has been submitted to the PCCF on the leopard.

— Dr. Malathi Priya, Chief Conservator of Forest, Mysuru Circle

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