The wildlife department, it seems, has learned its lessons on the importance of swift action and being equipped when an incident of man-animal conflict is reported.
Officials on Wednesday responded quickly and rescued a leopard that strayed into a village in Tauru, Mewat. The incident comes a month after a leopard was beaten to death by a mob in Mandawar village, Sohna, as the animal’s presence created panic among villagers and it allegedly injured 13 people.
Villagers in Malaka spotted a four-year-old male leopard around 7am in a mustard field. On receiving information, wildlife officials and police reached the spot equipped with nets and a tranquilliser gun. Unlike the Mandawar incident, they managed to tranquillise the big cat amid resistance from villagers.
In Mandawar, the villagers took law in their hands and killed the animal as the government machinery failed to capture the animal despite a hunt that lasted over three hours.
“A 15-member team of the wildlife department reached the village in Malakha on time,” an official said. In Mandawar, however, the police and wildlife team reached the spot without any preparation. As no cage and tranquilliser gun was in sight for three hours villagers, panicked and beat the wild cat to death.
In Malaka, however, the authorities were equipped and prepared. After tranquillising the animal, they moved it to Sohna for a medical examination. They said it would be released in the wild if its health condition is satisfactory.
Another wildlife official said a Mandawar-like situation might have ensued had the animal not been tranquillised and rescued. The only loss incurred on Wednesday was the damage done to the ripe mustard crops in the village.
“Nearly 3,000 people, annoyed by the damage done to the crops, had gathered. Some even rubbed shoulders for a selfie with the animal inside the cage. But thankfully, we rescued him (leopard) without much loss,” Shyam Sunder, district forest officer, Gurgaon, said.
In the last two months, five leopards and a few hyenas were spotted by camera traps in Bandhwari, Damdama and Mewat.
Wildlife researchers said capturing animals that stray into human habitations is not the long-term solution for man-animal conflict.
“When people see a leopard, the first instinct is to pick up a stick to attack it. This is not the right approach. Leopards are adaptable animals that live close to human settlements and feed on dogs, pigs etc. They will not attack humans directly,” Bilal Habib, an expert associated with Wildlife Institute of India (WII), said.
The forest department has sent a proposal to the WII to conduct a long-term study on leopards in the Aravallis. As per the proposal, which is first-of-its-kind, five leopards in south Haryana will be captured, fitted with a GPS-enabled radio collar and released back to the forest to study their movement patterns.
Blast from the past
-Nov 24, 2016 – A leopard was beaten to death by a mob in Mandawar village in Sohna, 40 kms from Gurgaon, before injuring 13 residents.
-May 2016 --- A male leopard was found dead at Gairatpur Bass forest area, the cause of death was known because the body was decomposed.
-May 2015- A young female leopard was found dead after being hit by a vehicle on Gurgaon-Faridabad Road near Mangar Bani.
-November 2014- A 12-year-old male leopard was killed in a road accident in Manesar.
-April 2014- Four leopards were found dead within a week in and around a private golf resort in Gurgaon.
-December 2011- A blue bull (nilgai) was killed while trying to cross the Gurgaon-Faridabad road.
-January 2011- A male leopard was beaten to death in Kheri Gujaran village by a mob in the presence of government officials.
-July 2010- A five-year-old female leopard was recovered from a farmhouse in the Aravalli area of Gurgaon by forest department officials.
-February 2009- A leopard and her two cubs were injured by a speeding vehicle on NH-8
-September 2008- A speeding vehicle killed a three-year-old male leopard when it was crossing the highway (NH-8) near Manesar village.
-March 2008- A four-year-old leopard was caught from a Farmhouse in Sohna.