Leopard Task Force rescues 77 felines, 14 cubs in one year 
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Leopard Task Force rescues 77 felines, 14 cubs in one year 

February 26, 2024

Active response to 934 complaints in five districts; 58-member team equipped with modern gadgets

By M.T. Yogesh Kumar

Mysore/Mysuru: In an endeavour to conserve leopard population in Mysuru region, a ground-breaking effort has been undertaken, exceeding expectations. 

In a series of five instances, a total of 14 cubs, including a rare black-coloured cub, were successfully reunited with their mothers, leading to the rescue of 77 leopards within a year. These efforts culminated in the release of the rescued leopards into forest areas, a commendable achievement deserving recognition.

Amidst the surge in leopard-related incidents, particularly in Mysuru district, where three lives were lost to these big cats in T. Narasipur taluk alone from October 2022 to January 2023, the State Government took decisive action. In February last year, recognising the urgency of the situation, the Government established the Leopard Task Force (LTF) to address the growing menace. 

The LTF’s mandate extended beyond Mysuru, encompassing Mandya, Chamarajanagar, Shivamogga and Hassan, where it conducted rescue operations.

The formation of the LTF was prompted by a Government Order dated Jan. 31, 2023, in response to the escalating leopard encounters in Mysuru Circle, covering areas such as Mysuru, Nanjangud, H.D. Kote, Sargur, T. Narasipur, Mandya, Pandavapura and Nagamangala. 

A big team with a mandate

Comprising a 58-member team, including officers and personnel, the LTF was spearheaded by the Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF), Wildlife Division, Mysuru. This team included an Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), a Range Forest Officer (RFO), four Deputy Range Forest Officers (DRFOs), eight Patrolling Forest Guards, 40 LTF Assistants hired on an outsourced basis and five drivers.

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 Since its inception, the LTF has achieved remarkable success, rescuing a total of 77 leopards and ensuring their safe release into their natural habitat. Furthermore, the Task Force has demonstrated exceptional care by reuniting leopard cubs, discovered during sugarcane harvesting, with their mothers. In total, 14 leopard cubs, including a black-coloured cub, have been successfully reunited with their mothers in five separate instances.

The distribution of leopard rescues across various taluks reflects the widespread nature of the issue: 34 leopards rescued in Mysuru taluk, 18 in T. Narasipur taluk, 9 in H.D. Kote taluk, 5 in K.R. Nagar taluk, 2 in Nanjangud taluk, 1 in Hunsur taluk, 2 in Mandya taluk, 3 in K.R. Pet taluk and 1 each in Maddur, Pandavapura and Channapatna taluks.

934 complaints

A staggering 934 complaints have been lodged regarding leopard menace to date. Of these, 367 originated from Mysuru taluk, 135 from K.R. Nagar, 88 from T. Narasipur, 47 from Hunsur, 40 from H.D. Kote, and 14 from Periyapatna. In Mandya district, a total of 197 complaints were recorded, with 46 from K.R. Pet, 15 from Malavalli, 28 from Maddur, 64 from Pandavapura, 7 from Nagamangala, 30 from Mandya, 7 from Srirangapatna, 6 from Kollegal, 3 from Shivamogga and one from  Hassan district.

Modern equipment

Equipped with an array of tools and resources, the LTF staff is well-prepared to address leopard encounters. They possess body protectors, shields, lathis, stretchers, nets, smart sticks, Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras, GSM cameras, sensor-based cameras, microchip sensors, pen and cubs cages, drones, elevated stands, wildlife ambulances, bunker nets, tranquillising darts and guns, walkie-talkies, body-worn cameras, and other necessary equipment.

Timely response to mitigate human-leopard conflicts: DCF

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Dr. K.N. Basavaraj, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), highlighted that stray dogs have become easy and favoured prey for leopards, contributing to their increased presence in both urban and rural areas. The rise in the stray dog population, particularly attracted to animal waste such as chicken and mutton scraps discarded in city  and rural outskirts, has inadvertently drawn leopards into human habitats.

To address this issue effectively, Dr. Basavaraj emphasised the importance of civic authorities in urban areas and Panchayat authorities in rural regions taking proactive steps to implement scientifically sound methods for the disposal of animal waste. By mitigating the availability of food sources for stray dogs, it’s possible to reduce their population and consequently lessen the attraction for leopards to enter human settlements.

Despite these challenges, the Leopard Task Force (LTF) has made significant strides in leopard conservation efforts. With 77 leopards successfully rescued and released back into their natural habitat, including the heartwarming reunion of fourteen cubs with their mothers, the LTF has demonstrated its commitment to wildlife protection, he added. 

Dr. Basavaraj assured prompt action upon receiving complaints, highlighting that LTF personnel are swiftly dispatched to address reported incidents, ensuring a timely response to mitigate human-leopard conflicts.

Call helpline 94819-96026

To facilitate reporting of leopard sightings and incidents, Forest Department has established a helpline: 94819-96026. When complaining, the complainant needs to provide accurate location details, enabling LTF personnel to respond promptly to the situation.

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