Bijnor farmers reel underleopard terror
Farmers have to enter sugarcane fields for harvesting as crushing season of sugar mills has already started, but entering a field is full of danger. “ Nobody knows in which field leopards may ambush one “, said BKU ( Apolitical) leader Digamber Singh.
MEERUT Sugarcane farmers in Bijnor district are grappling with the menace of leopards which have have made cane fields their new abode after coming out of the reserve forest of Amaangarh tiger reserve in the wake of growing population of tigers from 28 last year to 32 in the latest survey report.
Many leopards in the district seem to have turned into ‘ maneaters’, killing 18 people, including children, in the past 11 months. The 18th kill was reported in in Rehad village of the district on Thursday when a big cat attacked a 12-year-old boy and killed him. Forest official Gyan Singh said that 41 leopards had been caged and sent to Lucknow, Gorakhpur and Etawah Safari so far and every possible effort was being made to end the man-animal conflict in the area. Singh shared that 200 villages in the district had been declared sensitive and 73 of them ,where attacks of leopards had been reported, were categorised as super sensitive .
The district has approximate 3 lakh hectare land under sugarcane farming and it was largely farmers and their family members who were attacked and killed by leopards in the past 11 months.
Farmers have to enter sugarcane fields for harvesting as crushing season of sugar mills has already started, but entering a field is full of danger. “ Nobody knows in which field leopards may ambush one “, said BKU ( Apolitical) leader Digamber Singh, adding that farmers staged a dharna for many days at the DM office in Bijnor to highlight the problem but it still persisted .
Gyan Singh said that a work policy had been formed at block level to deal with the issue. He said that the sugarcane department had been asked to ensure the harvesting of sugarcane first in the periphery of 200 metres from populated areas so that possibility of leopards near population could be minimised.
He said that an advisory had been issued to farmers to not go alone in the fields, shout after entering the field and play music on their mobile or radio while working in the field. They had also been asked to wrap towel around their neck and wear turban because a leopard grabbed skull and neck during attack.