Nizamabad/Hyderabad: Nizamabad district was witness to a rare coincidence of sorts on two consecutive days, both involving leopard-human conflict. In the first incident on Monday night, a leopard was mowed down by a heavy vehicle and in the second, a 40-year-old shepherd was found mauled, and the suspect is a leopard.
An adult male leopard was killed crossing a road in Nizamabad district on Monday night when it was hit by an unidentified vehicle that sped away from the scene. The healthy, seven-year-old cat was killed while it was crossing the road near Jaggarao Farm in Yedpalli mandal of Nizamabad district on the Jankampet-Basar road. After the vehicle, which hit the leopard sped away, some passersby stopped and informed the police and forest officials. The Forest Department officials rushed to the spot, but the leopard had died by then.
In the second case, a 40-year-old shepherd, Yellanna, from Pipri village of Bheemgal mandal was found dead with part of his internal organs eaten, reportedly by a leopard, in the forest near his village on Tuesday evening. According to Sirikonda forest range officer Sandeep, the injuries on Yellanna’s body and the evidence at the site pointed to an attack by a leopard.
Like every day, Yellanna had gone to the forest to graze his herd of sheep and goats. However, when he did not return home in the evening, his wife tried calling him on his mobile but did not receive any response. Worried, she went in search of him and discovered her husband’s body.
She rushed back to the village and raised an alarm following which the villagers informed the police and Forest Department officials. A group of villagers accompanied the officials from the two departments to the forest after which Yellanna’s body was brought back to the village.
The police and forest officials registered a case, collected clues from the incident site and have begun an investigation into the shepherd’s death. Yellanna’s animals returned home by themselves late in the evening, it was learnt.
Barely a week ago, on February 2, a Chowsinga or a four-horned antelope, was killed crossing Rajiv Rahadari in Medak district, also hit by a speeding vehicle. In January, a leopard was hit by a train in Nizamabad district in the Sirnapally forest area and succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment at the Nehru Zoological Park.
All three incidents, the two road kills and one on the railway track, occurred outside of wildlife sanctuaries and the Forest Department official say there is little they can do to prevent such mishaps from being repeated.
Ravi Mohan Butt, Nizamabad Forest Range Officer, said the leopard was hit on Monday night by an unidentified heavy vehicle resulting in grievous injuries to the animal. A post-mortem examination at the district veterinary hospital by Dr Rakesh revealed that the animal died of severe injuries to its head, stomach and heavy internal bleeding. Its rib cage, lungs and throat also suffered serious injuries, Dr Rakesh said.
Meanwhile, the Forest Department officials say they are helpless to prevent such accidents. “Unless speed is regulated strictly on highways, it is not possible to control death of wild animals in such accidents. The only solution is to lay speed breakers at regular intervals when roads pass through forest areas or near forests. But we have no control on roads that do not pass through wildlife sanctuaries,” a department official told Telangana Today.
The officials fear that such deaths on roads and railway lines, particularly of leopards, may continue, especially since the indications from the recent tiger and wildlife census this January points to an increase in leopard population in Telangana. While wild animals may not find it too hard to cross a two-lane highway, a four-lane with a divider in between is a certain death trap unless tunnels are provided for their safe passage, the official said.