An elusive leopard, missing animals and worried villagers – a tale of two panchayats in Idukki

Image of leopard caught on camera at Karimkunnam. Photo: Special Arrangement

Idukki: For more than a month, a leopard has been spreading fear in Muttom and Karimkunnam panchayats in Idukki. On some days the residents wake up to disturbing scenes. Bloodied remains of goats could be lying scattered on the wayside or house premises. Dogs left to roam around at night go missing from houses.

People barely go out when it gets dark. Some of the rubber tappers pluck up the courage to leave early in the morning, others have skipped work. Those who go to other places for work wind up earlier than usual to reach back home before the night sets in. They can't do that for long and protests have gotten intense.

Two days ago people gathered in large numbers to protest at a public meeting organized by Muttom Panchayat demanding that the leopard should be captured.

The people told the meeting that even after a month, the forest department officials were unable to capture the leopard. They said that with each passing day, the presence of a leopard is being confirmed in more places.

The forest department authorities have set up cameras and cages to catch the leopard, but the people say that they want more proactive measures.

Sijo Samuel, Range Officer of the Forest Department, said that only if the image of the leopard is recorded in the cameras installed at various places where the presence of the leopard has been confirmed, other things can be done legally. Steps will be taken soon to set up cages at other locations. The range officer said that people should not spread rumours of leopard sightings.

P J Joseph MLA, who presided over an all-party meeting, demanded that more Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) should be deployed in areas where the leopard has been spotted.

The presence of a leopard has also been spotted in some of the wards in Thodupuzha municipality. Although cameras have been installed in Parakadav and Manjummav areas under Thodupuzha municipality, images have not been recorded so far.

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