This first-of-its-kind initiative should help put an end to that perennial tussle between humans and leopards.
To keep tabs on physical movement of predator leopards, the state forest department has started trapping such spotted cats in Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandapur (near Nagpur) and is inserting radio collars around their scruffs. Several human deaths due to leopard attacks have been reported from this locality.
The radio-collars will help monitor movement of such animals and will serve as a warning bell if the leopard saunters around human territory. If it inches too close to a village, the state has also cobbled up a Rapid Response Unit to avoid human casualties.
The rationale behind this move is to ensure peaceful man-animal co-habitation around forest buffer zones.
This scheme, which has been taken up on a trial basis, could be replicated in Mumbai where leopard attacks around the Borivali national park have been a common feature.
According to the scheme, the forest department will trap leopards which have attacked villagers. A radio collar chip will then be fixed and the animal will be released into the wild.
Thereafter, if any of these leopards moves closed to a village, the Rapid Response Unit comprising forest officials and guards will swing into action.
The team will rush into the village and alert people of the animal lurking around. The human preparedness will help curb leopard attacks.
Assistant conservator of forest (Buffer Zone), Moharli Range, Kanchan Pawar Ghure said the unit had so far trapped two collared leopards which had been trapped and released away from its home territory. “We found that both travelled back to their territories. Since they were tracked, we could avoid any human loss or injury,” said Pawar Ghure.
Regional forest officer DS Rautkar said, “When an animal is around, awarness among villagers will be better. It will also help forge a bond of trust between villagers and forest officials.”