A 10 Km patch on the Haridwar-Rishikesh-Dehradun highway continues to hog limelight for man-animal conflicts taking heavy toll. In a fresh incident a man-eater leopard killed 56-year-old Surat Negi, who had gone in the forest to look for his buffalo at Raiwala on late Monday evening. The body of the victim was recovered on Tuesday. This was the 5th kill this year and 18 since 2014 at Raiwala.
The new incident has forced the Rajaji Tiger Reserve management to reach the conclusion that more than one man-eating leopard are active in the area. The killing pattern and other evidences available on the spot hint at a new feline becoming active in the affected area.
It is estimated about one dozen leopards are using the 10-12 km cramped area of Raiwala- that have a railway station, high traffic flowing highway, army cantonment, busy market place and residential area, for their habitat.
Killed Surat Negi was engaged in animal husbandry. He was handicap, a deaf and dumb, and he entered the forest area to look for his cattle in late evening. He never returned and his mutilated body was found in the jungle.
Rajaji Tiger Reserve’s director Sanatan Sonker says, “We feel about three man-eating leopards are active in and around Raiwala. In the past we shifted five leopards by tranquilized them and six other by trapping then in cage. But, even after moving eleven leopards from the affected area the problem persists.”
Owing to the growing number of man-animal cases at Raiwala in district Haridwar, the leopard was declared a man-eater over one and a half month back and the forest department gave order of shooting down the dangerous feline on 21 May.
The leopard suspected having killed a labourer, who was sleeping with seven other persons on roof of a forest post near Nepali farm, on 20 May was an 11-12-year old male leopard. Camera trap photographs proved the presence of that leopard near the site. But the new incident shows another leopard becoming man-eater in the disturbed area.
The suspected leopard of many recent killing at Raiwala is of big size, almost the size of the tiger, and the Rajaji Tiger Reserve wanted to tranquilize or trap the jungle cat in cage.
But, the man-eater of Raiwala now minutely understands the forest department moves. The leopard never returns to the kill and even hovers near the fixed cage. This has surprised the Rajaji Tiger Reserve management. The man-eater of Raiwala continues to remain elusive for the forest department.