Forest department issues precautionary ‘leopard alert' notices to Junnar schools
After the recent incident of a 30-year-old woman being severely injured after an attack by a leopard in Hirve village of Junnar taluka, forest department officials have issued a precautionary letter to all school principals and gram panchayat leaders in the area.pune Updated: Feb 04, 2018 22:14 IST
Junnar is a forest well known for its leopard sightings and every now and then, a leopard attack is also reported from villages near the forest.
However, after the recent incident of a 30-year-old woman being severely injured after an attack by a leopard in Hirve village of Junnar taluka, forest department officials have issued a precautionary letter to all school principals and gram panchayat leaders in the area.
Savita Bhimrao Wayse had sustained severe neck injuries after being dragged for 20 metres by a leopard in January. She died while undergoing treatment at Sassoon General Hospital after five days of the incident. Villagers from Hirve Khurda and adjoining hamlets of Junnar taluka had also staged an agitation on the Ozhar-Nashik highway in protest of the authorities’ inability to tackle the issue.
As a result, the forest department has now given a specific set of instructions to avoid the human-animal conflict. A letter issued by forest officer Arjun Mhase asks schools and parents to follow the instructions for their own safety.
According to the letter, the normal school timings (early morning and late evening) is when a leopard hunts for a prey. Therefore, the students must not go to school or return home on their own. They should form a group of at least five to six individuals and only then cover the distance.
If possible, the parents should drop and collect their kids from school. While travelling, they should make as much noise as possible to avoid a surprise collusion. If they witness any leopard activity or sight any animal, they must clear the way and try to reach a safe destination rather than agitating the animal, the letters said.
The department has also issued a set of instructions for villagers which asks them to not roam around during night and to not let their kids go outside the house alone after sunset. The instruction list also asks them to keep the courtyard, and areas near their home, well lit after sunset.
When asked about the letter, Mhase said that it’s a normal procedure and that they have been doing this on a regular basis.
“There were some incidents recently but the forest department is always trying to reduce the number of man-animal conflicts. These letters are part of our awareness programme,” he said.
Dr Ajay Deshmukh, a veterinary doctor at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, said, “It’s a good move by the forest department. The leopard attack incidents will reduce if proper safety measures are followed by the villagers.”