Leopards out of forest spread terror from Bengaluru to Belagavi

Greater Noida housing society lives in terror with leopard on the loose.
Representative image. Photo: IANS

Bengaluru: In an unprecedented development, Karnataka is witnessing increasing instances of man-animal conflict. The leopard menace has caused major disruption to normal life, not only in residential settlements adjoining forest areas, but the big cats are prowling in the state capital Bengaluru as well as in other major cities such as Mysuru and Belagavi.

Many leopards have turned into man-eaters, forcing the people to live in fear. In some places, leopard attacks on livestock have become a common phenomenon, leading to forest authorities to be on their toes to tackle the situation. Environmentalists say that the forests in the state have become a desert for wildlife, pushing leopards and elephants out in search of food.

As the incidents of loss of life are increasing every day due to leopard attacks, the Karnataka government was compelled to announce Rs 15 lakhs as compensation for the victims' families. Earlier, this compensation amount was given to families of victims of elephant attacks. In the last week of December 2022, celebrations took place in Mysuru district as a seven-year-old man-eating leopard was finally trapped in Ukkalagere village of T. Narasipur taluk.

The leopard had killed two persons, a student, and a 22-year-old woman, and also attacked livestock, creating terror for the residents of the region. Forest department authorities had tried to capture the leopard for two months. The incidents created chaos in the region as people took to the streets to protest.

The major operation to catch the leopard was launched in Belagavi city in mid-2022. After being spotted in the premises of eth Golf Club located at the heart of the city, the animal compelled the authorities to declare holidays and switch to online mode for 22 schools for more than a month.

The mega operation was launched to catch the prowling leopard in Belagavi city. Elephants were roped in and more than 200 personnel from the forest, and police departments launched the search operation. Sharpshooters, wildlife activists and anesthetic experts were also in the team.

The leopard which surfaced before the team on Tuesday managed to escape by a whisker. It had attacked a labourer and after hearing the news, the mother of the youth died of a heart attack. The authorities have also got a special drone with algorithm technology.

The prolonged operation led to frustration. The authorities were mocked on social media. The people even named the big cat after god Ganesha describing it as a guest for the festival and will go only after the celebrations. The residents came out with sticks to join search operations. Finally, the big cat walked into the forest and a mega operation was called off.

The leopard menace in Bengaluru compelled Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai to react and assure the safety of the people. Bommai explained that earlier, leopard movements and attacks were reported from the regions located close to forest areas. Now, they are reported in and around Bengaluru.

Bommai stated that there are leopards in the elephant corridors of Mysuru and Bengaluru. To contain the leopard menace, a special team has been formed and they are given specific directions. To catch the leopards who have come out of jungles, a dedicated team is already working, he said.

Leopards are repeatedly spotted in Kengeri, Kumbalagodu, Nagarabhavi and areas surrounding Turahalli forest region in Bengaluru. Recently, residents of Nagarabhavi locality sighted a leopard prowling with two cubs. Bike riders have said that the leopard was in a ready-to-attack position on them.

CCTV footage also confirmed the movements and the forest department has taken up an operation to trap the leopard. Congress MLC Dinesh Gooligowda explained that he had written a letter to the Chief Minister Bommai urging him to address the leopard menace faced by the people of Mandya district. He has urged that the state government should wake up before tragedy strikes.

MLC Gooligowda stated that leopard menace is found in all seven taluks of the Mandya district. Leopards have been prowling in the popular tourist destination the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) Dam in the district for two years. The famous tourist spot was shut for almost two months as leopards freely roamed the premises.

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