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Tranquillising was not an option, says shikari
Aug 13, 2013 01:09 AM , By J. S. Ifthekhar | 6 comments

Nawab Shafat Ali Khan of Hyderabad, who killed a leopard in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district on Sunday, has been asked to stay back in the district and capture a few other leopards that are stalking villages in the area. In a district where people are feeling terrorised by these leopards, Mr. Khan may have no choice but to shoot and kill the wildcats. Mr. Khan does carry a tranquillising gun, but officials say putting the leopards to sleep by shooting darts at them is not practical.

P.D. Dogra, Divisional Forest Officer, says the hilly terrain and thick bushes make tranquillising next to impossible. Mr. Khan, the shikari, added that forest officials did try to tranquillise the leopard that was killed on Sunday, but did not succeed. Only after exhausting all their options the officials declared the feline a man-eater and issued official orders asking Mr. Khan to shoot the animal.

Tranquillising requires a clear view of the animal otherwise the dart can miss its target. “If I had tried to tranquillise the leopard I would have been killed as the predator charged at me,” Mr. Khan remarked. Mr. Khan is a welcome visitor in these parts. On Monday evening, Bhupender Singh, a 24-year-old man, was attacked by another leopard in Thanug village. The injured man was hospitalised and is stated to be out of danger.

Irate villagers ghearoed forest department officials for their failure to catch the predator. A 500-strong mob gathered and protested at the local hospital where the injured man is recuperating. “If we don’t catch the felines the villagers will thrash us. So angry they are,” remarked Mr. Dogra.

Forest officials say there might be two to three leopards in the hilly terrain. Conservator of Forest, H.B. Kalhoria, the DFO and other forest officials held a meeting at Thanug on Monday to plan the next course of action. Services of local people are being requisitioned and forest guards are camping in the village to allay the fears of residents.

Four cages have already been placed at strategic points in the village and two more are being added. “The leopards are very shrewd and are not coming to get the goats kept as bait,” Mr. Dogra told The Hindu over phone.

Initially the felines were mostly attacking cattle. But in the last one month they have been targeting the villagers.

The locals were not happy with the compensation of Rs. 1 lakh paid by the department to the kin of those killed, Rs. 5000 for simple injuries and Rs. 35,000 for grievous injuries, Mr. Dogra said.

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  • Man Animal conflict in India will never come to an ease if people like Nawab will not stop taking pride and stop gloating at having killed a exotic specie with the added glamour of the title MANEATER. There is a recent BBC documentary by Mr. Romuel Wihittaker exploring the this conflict with leopards and conclusion was that the fault lies in the spineless and toothless forest department and to top it all the high level of ignorance these keeper of wild have about the wild animals they are protecting leaving a huge loop hole for poachers and offical hunters alike who can kill a wrong animal and get away with it. Himachal Forest department might have a point in the difficulties of tranulizing ,but that is not the only way of capturing a leopard especially one who relies on villages for a sqare meal. This hunter is also wrongly credited with having hunted a maneater in faizabad where the admnistration was clearly at fault,it was a clear case of witch hunt based on a hunch only.
    From: Ahmed Wajeeh Kamal
    Posted: Aug 15, 2013 at 2:41 IST
  • People who make comments here against killing a man-eater dwell in concrete jungles and have neither the expertise nor the courage to accomplish this highly dangerous task , forget using their own resources or risking their own life. When you are surrounded by hundreds of nervous villagers crying murder , it is very difficult to remain focused on the most dangerous job at hand ! The official in charge there know what is at stake , the lives of their villagers. If they cannot take care of this man eater soon , they risk their own lives at the hands of these villagers. Yes,it could be that bad !
    From: K Ansari
    Posted: Aug 15, 2013 at 0:17 IST
  • Please do not publish any more pictures of the killed animals. I know I will never step into any of the hotels run by the hunter in Ooty. I may perhaps stop reading The Hindu altogether.
    From: D Rakesh
    Posted: Aug 13, 2013 at 14:27 IST
  • I do not know with what reporting rigour is Mr. Ifthekhar writing on this incident. He seems to be taking blindly what Mr Khan and the wildlife officials are saying. The latest information that I have received is that a leopard has again attacked people in that area. So, doubts remain as to which leopard was shot by Shafat Ali Khan. Khan has not cited any evidence to show that he has shot the man-eater, ie by way of pugmark matches etc. The post-mortem of the leopard shot by Khan reveals the remains of a dog in the stomach. The Himachal Forests and wildlife department is conducting further investigations to see whether the leopard shot was the real man-eater. Only trained vets can tranquilise a leopard/tiger. Mr. Khan courted much controversy earlier in UP when he shot a tigress and tried to tranquilise another tiger.
    From: Vikram Jit Singh
    Posted: Aug 13, 2013 at 12:31 IST
  • //Khan has been asked to stay back in the district and capture a few other leopards that are stalking villages in the area.... Mr. Khan may have no choice but to shoot and kill the wildcats. // And as the story goes, he is 'Licenced to kill'. As per popular demand, he will be on a hunting spree over the next few days or weeks with an appreciative reporting by your correspondent and may be quite a few TV channels providing a live coverage under corporate sponsorship of the big game. Please do not publish any more photographs of the slain wild cats at the feet of the triumphant shikari with his gun still smoking. We have seen one; seen all that are to come.By the way, how come there is a sudden increase in the man-eating leopard population in Mandi? And how do you officially declare a tiger or a leopard a man-eater?
    From: era murukan
    Posted: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:45 IST
  • Why is The Hindu publishing an article which evidently seems glorifying the hunting practice? Well in anycase, I do not see any persons from the Ministry of Environment or Forestry or any central government official in this decision making to shoot the cats by a "professional hunter." In the US maximum care is taken to avoid conflicts between humans and animals and even if it did take place carefull assessment is made whether the animal was behaving normally. That is, a female bear with cubs will charge and kill intruders. Male grizzlies in their natural habitat will kill humans unless precautions are taken. Very careful monitoring will be made before destroying an animal. The Leopard, Tiger are iconic animals of India whose habitat and numbers have already shrunk a lot. It is disgusting and disgraceful to see this "Shikari" being given a free reign and allowed to hunt. What a shame! He has nothing else better to do? Leave the job of resolving man animal conflicts to the professionals.
    From: Jagan
    Posted: Aug 13, 2013 at 1:18 IST