The horrifying leopard attacks in Uttarakhand have become the order of the day and there seems to be no end to this menace. There seem to be no efforts from the state government’s concerned departments to ensure the safety of the hill people, particularly the women and children who’ve become extremely vulnerable to these increasing attacks.
On the one hand there is special emphasis by the wild life department to conserve tigers and leopards as they are considered to be the vanishing spieces but in Uttarakhand which is inhabited by 73% jungles the leopard menace has so far taken around 250 lives in just one and a half decade with majority of the incidents of grievous unjuries not being reported by the poor and hapless villagers.
I have been writing very often on this subject as other scribes too are reporting in print and electronics media but regretfully the government seems to be least bothered to pay special attention on this front. After the exodus of the hill people to cities, towns and metropolises the villages of Uttarakhand are rapidly losing population and as such there is tremendous dearth of pet animals like goats, cows and buffaloes.
Moreover the rampant activities of construction and subsequent intervention with nature has also resulted in disturbance of the wild life, particularly the leopards and panthers. In the absense of adequate food and disturbance due to the enhanced construction activities these freely roaming leopards conveniently enter the villages and human settlements and attack the women or children working and playing in the agricultural fields cladestinely to fulfill their hunger.
Such horrifying incidents of leopard attacks have been frequently witnessed in several villages of Pauri Garhwal district, in and around the 200 to 300 kilometre of the Jim Corbet national park and in Kumaon division as well. The maximum victims are the women and children who are quite vulnerable to such attacks as they work in agricultural fields and often go the jungles for fodder and firewods at odd hours.
Just a day before a dreaded leopard had cladestinely made a seven year old girl its prey and grabbed her thigh and the face leaving her dead, while profusely bleeding, in the jungles after the local inhabitants made lot of noise in unison. According to a news report released from Nainital a maneater leopard literally killed a 7 year old girl child who was going towards a jungle under the jurisdiction of BELUVKHAN GRAM SABHA adjacent to the Nainital Haldwani National highway.
The leopard who was clandestinely keeping an eye on the mother daughter duo literally snatched the girl child from the mothers captivity and dragged her up to five hundred metres in broad day light leaving behing the dead body inside the jungle after the group of the local villagers created panic and noise. When the villagers recovered her dead body the victims thigh and face were completely mutilated with the leopards punch and jaws, profusely bleeding.
The girl died instantly. According to the news report Rekha Devi alongwith her daughter was going to the jungle for firewoods in the afternoon at 2.30 PM. A leopard who was hiding near a house immediately out of the blue grabbed the 7 year old girl with his jaws and dragged her upto 500 metres, finally killing her. There was panic all around. Meanwhile when the victims mother raised an alarm, some of the local villagers gathered and raise an alarm with collective noise after which the man eater( predator) left the dead body behind and skipped away.
By the time the local police, revenue officials and the forest guards reached the spot and brought the profusely bleeding dead body on the road for post mortom. Such incidents of these predators have made the lives of women and children a hell in Uttarakhand and the government seems to be negligibly bothered for the safety and security of the people. If these leopard attacks are frequently continued not only will it lead to more exodus of the villagers to cities but will also affect adversely, the states tourism sector which is considered to be the major earning source of the UK’s economy.
SUNIL NEGI, PRESIDENT, UTTARAKHAND JOURNALISTS FORUM