TWO persons were killed,possibly by the same leopard,near Adegaon in Moharli range of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve buffer zone Wednesday.
Tukaram Dharne (65) of Adegaon was killed around 7 am while he was collecting mahua flowers by a roadside. Even as we were conducting panchnama around 10 am,70-year-old Malanbai Mumghate,also from Adegaon,was attacked about 150 metres away while she was walking to the village with relatives, divisional forest officer Kalyan Kumar said.
Eyewitnesses said the leopard jumped from a tree on Malanbai.
The attacker could be a single animal, Kumar said.
Angry villagers demanded immediate capture of the animal. We have installed cages, Kumar said.
Villagers also demanded hike in the compensation of Rs 2 lakh. We have released ex gratia of Rs 10,000 to families of the victims and would release the remaining amount at the earliest, Kumar said.
Four days ago,a female leopard had killed a woman near Sadagadh village in the adjoining Saoli range. On March 26,another woman was killed by a female leopard near Usarpar Chak village in the same range. Both animals were captured immediately and released into the wild. Eyewitnesses,however,said it was one animal,not two.
Chandrapur DFO Vinay Thakre,who oversaw the previous two operations,insisted,They were two animals,both females. One was small and the other big.
Asked where they were released,he said,In the larger public interest,we are not supposed to reveal it. Thakre also denied bodies of the two victims were partly eaten.
Kumar said,That the animal in todays and previous incidents is the same is conjecture. We are going all out to capture the animal. Police and forest department patrols have been deployed in sensitive villages.
The number of deaths in tiger,leopard and wild boar attacks in Vidarbha this year now stands at eight. A tigress had to be shot in Gondia after it killed five women in December-January.
MoEF guidelines and response
GUIDELINES Attacks by man-eating leopards are deliberate with an intention to kill and usually result in death. In such cases,every attempt must be made to identify and trap the correct animal. Immediately after the first attack by such an animal,orders from chief wildlife wardens should be obtained to eliminate the problem animal with the help of shooters. Trap cages should be installed to capture the man-eater. This is especially crucial when such attacks occur in highly populated landscapes. Animals trapped after deliberate attacks should never be released back into the wild. Humanely euthanising such animals should be the preferred option.
FOREST DEPt RESPONSE Asked if the leopard in Wednesdays incidents could be shot,Kalyan Kumar said. Why? It is not man-eater.
THE forest department has increased compensation to the kin of those killed in wild animal attacks to Rs 5 lakh. We issued a GR to the effect two days ago, principal secretary (forest) Pravin Pardeshi said.