Fourth death since Oct. 2022; irate villagers block highway
Mysore/Mysuru: Close on the heels of a leopard killing an elderly woman at Kannayakanahalli in T. Narasipur on Friday, a 11-year-old boy fell victim to a leopard last night at Horalahalli in T. Narasipur.
The half-eaten body of Jayanth was found this morning around one kilometre from where he was attacked by the feline. The boy had gone out of his house to fetch biscuits from a shop nearby. Soon after the body was discovered, irate villagers resorted to a flash protest against Forest Department for their alleged inaction in controlling the leopard menace.
Since October last year, four persons have been killed by leopards in and around T. Narasipur and though the Forest Department have captured over 30 leopards in the Mysuru Division, T. Narasipur and its surrounding villages continue to bear the brunt of human-leopard conflict.
Villagers, shouting slogans, blocked the roads to express their anger against the Forest Department and termed the Department’s efforts to capture leopards as eye-wash. “The Department officers come here and pose for media photos only when people die. We have been terrorised by the leopards for months and except for giving assurances and capturing one or two leopards, the Department officers have done nothing,” Sannappa, a villager, told Star of Mysore.
Jayanth had ventured out of his house after dinner last night to buy biscuits from a nearby shop. As he did not return even at 8.30 pm, his parents got worried and began a search in neighbouring houses. A search party was constituted by the villagers who searched the route from Jayanth’s house to the shop.
One of the villagers in the search team spotted blood stains on roadside twigs and alerted the villagers. The blood stains led to a bushy area. This morning, the half-eaten body of the boy was found at a distance of one kilometre from where the blood stains were found.
The Forest Department staff and officers, who came to the village late last night and this morning, had to face the wrath of the villagers. The villagers blocked the highway and demanded immediate capturing of the leopard and also compensation to the families of the leopard attack victims Siddamma and Jayanth.
Meanwhile, the officers launched an operation to track the leopard which killed Siddamma and now Jayanth. The Dept. has established a temporary camp in the area and multiple teams are stationed there.
DFC D. Mahesh Kumar said that the images of the leopard are yet to be captured in the 15 camera traps that have been installed. Two cages have also been placed. The pug marks of a leopard were found about 500 metres from the spot where Siddamma was killed.
Since Oct. 31, 2022, four persons have been killed in T. Narasipur and surrounding villages. People of 40 villages heaved a sigh of relief when the leopard that killed two persons was finally trapped in a cage in the last week of December at Madgaralingayyanahundi (M.L. Hundi) after an intensive 22-day-and-night operation.
The leopard had attacked and killed Manjunath and Meghana, both students and had also attacked livestock and created terror in the region.
Meanwhile, Siddamma was cremated last afternoon. The Department announced ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh to Siddamma’s family, the remaining Rs. 13 lakh will be paid by the State Government after completing formalities.
Forest Department prepares pamphlet
The Forest Department has prepared a pamphlet and urged the public, especially women, elderly and children, not to venture out alone or go to fields after 6 pm. People have been advised not to go to the fields to defecate and avoid touching pet animals if the leopard has killed them. Phone numbers have been provided to the villagers in case they spot a leopard — 98457-72744, 99459-21926 or Forest Department Helpline 1926.