Leopard fear is back in Doon
Frightened by the leopard’s sighting on Tuesday, Kewal Vihar residents couldn’t sleep the whole night. The people were so scared that office-goers did not go to offices and shopkeepers didn’t open shops.dehradun Updated: Dec 20, 2017 20:31 IST
DEHRADUN Leopard fear is back in the localities close to forest areas in Dehradun. A leopard that created scare among the residents of Kewal Vihar near Sahastradhara Road in the district on Tuesday afternoon was sighted again at another nearby location on Wednesday morning. The forest staff searched for the big cat, but without any success.
Frightened by the leopard’s sighting on Tuesday, Kewal Vihar residents could not sleep the whole night. The people were so scared that office-goers did not go to offices and shopkeepers didn’t open shops. Priyanka, a student from the locality, told HT on Wednesday, “People here are so terrified that they couldn’t sleep. They checked their door locks every now and then. Kids didn’t go to school. I also didn’t go to my coaching.”
After hours of wait, a tranquilising team of the forest department arrived in the area at 5 pm, but by then the big cat had found its way into bushes, where it remained hidden for next few hours. Locals said the forest team tried to capture the animal till 11pm, but they did not get success. “We tried (to catch the leopard), but it hid behind bushes and then vanished. We now have a lead that the animal was spotted at a nearby location in the morning (on Wednesday),” KP Verma, sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Raipur range in Mussoorie Forest Division told Hindustan Times. However, two teams have been deployed, one each from Tehri and Rajaji to trap the animal, he said.
Leopards often stray into the city due to its proximity to forest areas. Starting from Clement Town — the gateway to Uttarakhand from Delhi via Uttar Pradesh — Indira Nagar, Vasant Vihar, Forest Research Institute (FRI), Indian Military Academy (IMA), Suddhowala, Birpur, Garhi Cantt, Chief Minister’s residence and Malsi forest area are vulnerable to the entry of wild animals.
A leopard was spotted at Clement Town only a fortnight ago. In 2015, a leopard killed a 16-year-old girl on the FRI campus. Prior to this, a leopard attacked a child was on the same campus. Two months before this incident, a leopard killed a 10-year-old boy in Jajhra range. In 2013, a leopard killed a girl near the CM’s residence.
Wildlife experts blame the frequent entry of wild animals into the city on deforestation. “The habitat of leopards is being continuously degraded and their population increasing leading to their entry into the urban areas,” said Digvijay Singh Khati, the chief wildlife warden, adding that there is no “substantial” solution to obstruct the movement of big cats into cities.
In the past 17 years, the big cats have killed more than 600 people in Uttarakhand, averaging nearly 35 people per year, and injured over 3,000. The conflict rate is highest in the country, claim activists.