Medak: A couple of leopards that have been killing domestic animals in Medak district since 2017 are proving to be a menace to the people living on the forest fringes in Ramayampet, Havelighanpur, Shankarampet (R), Narsingi Mandals and rural parts of Medak as also the Forest department officials. They have so far killed 129 domestic animals.
While farmers are scared to come out of their homes during the evenings, forest officials’ efforts to trap and release the leopard deep inside the forest area have proved futile. Most of the 129 wild animals killed by the leopards were reported in Thonigandla, Lakshampur, Jhansi Lingapur, Katriyal and Akkannapet villages, located on the fringes of the Pocharam Forest area in Ramayampet Mandal.
Speaking to Telangana Today, District Forest Officer (DFO), M Padmajarani said that there was abundant prey such as spotted deer, sambar, neelgai, chowsinga and others available in the forest area, but the leopards continue to come out occasionally from the forest since the cattle sheds are located very close to the forest.
With the objective of further increasing the prey base in these parts of Medak forest to restrict it from straying out, the DFO said the department released some 75 spotters deers brought from Harina Vanasthali, into the forest during the past couple of years. However, the leopards continue to kill the domestic animals.
Other predators that were sighted in the forest area include wild dogs and Indian fox. Forest officials placed traps with baits in several places during the past four years, but they have not been able to catch the animals until today. Though the forest officials are paying upto Rs 5,000 compensation per cattle killed, the farmers say the compensation is a pittance.
Rangeri Rathnam, a farmer from Thonigandla, whose cow was killed on July 19, said he would have to shell out Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 to buy a cow or a buffalow. Since the movement of the wild animals also pose a danger to their life, Rathnam urged the forest authorities to prevent the animal from coming out of the forest.
The farmers say the forest officials pay compensation only if the leopard leaves a part of the carcass. They alleged that a shepherd whose sheep were killed inside the forest area, had got nothing as compensation. While the villagers of Thonigandla alleged that Pitla Latchaiah, an elderly man, suffered injuries in a leopard attack, forest officials dismissed it as an attack by a dog. Except this once incident, there have been no attacks on human beings so far.
A leopard was seen on a hillock near Kamaram village of Shankarmpet (R) Mandal and a farmer captured in his mobile from a long distance prompting the Forest authorities to place a trap close to the place. Meanwhile, they have also placed a couple of other traps in Ramayampet forest area.
While the one side of the coin presents the struggles of the farmers, the other side of the coin presents a rosy picture as the Leopards population has been increasing steadily in these parts of the Medak district. According to DFO, Padmajarani the population range of Leopard has increased from 6-8 in 2017 censusto 10-12 in 2019 Census. However, only two or three Leopads were coming out the forest quite freqeuntly. She has attributed the increase in the population to availability of abundant prey base. Assuring to initiate all efforts to restrict the wild-animal from coming out the forest area, the DFO has vowed to further their efforts.
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