Six children killed in leopard attacks in Bhanu Municipality in the last year and a halfTo subdue locals’ fear, a special security squad has been searching the forests to capture the man-eating leopards.
On Monday evening, seven-year-old Ritik Roka was killed in a leopard attack in Bhanu Municipality in Tanahun. The latest incident takes the number of children killed in leopard attacks to six in the past year and a half.
Roka, the latest victim, was snatched by a leopard from outside his house.
For more than a year, the locals of Bhanu have been living in terror of leopard attacks that have increased with time. As per the data of the Division Forest Office, there are 96 community forests (which cover 5,777 hectares of land) in Bhanu Municipality but the office does not have data on the exact number of leopards that roam the forest areas.
Prem Thapa, a native of Bhanu Municipality Ward No. 1, said that local units and other concerned authorities are making efforts to curb the number of attacks. “We don’t even walk around the villages alone for the fear of being eaten alive,” said Thapa, adding that villagers walk in clusters and never venture out alone—especially in the evenings and early mornings. “Since the leopards find easy prey in children, most parents in the villages are afraid to send their children to school.”
Just about a week before Roka’s death, a leopard killed Aashik Baniya, aged 3, in Bhanu Municipality Ward No. 1. The leopards have killed 57 livestock in the municipality so far.
Kedar Baral, chief at the Division Forest Office in Tanahun, said that six children were mauled to death by leopards in the last year and a half. He said, “Seven other children were injured in leopard attacks in the same time period.”
The first leopard attack in the municipality was reported on February 13, 2018. A six-year-old boy from Ward No. 3 of the municipality was the first victim.
Baburam Uprety, assistant forest officer, said that the office, in order to keep a check on leopard attacks in the municipality, has mobilised a 19-member team that includes a sharpshooter to capture the leopards. Uprety said, “We have prepared nine traditional cages and two modern cages to capture the leopards that enter the settlements.”
To subdue locals’ fear, a special security squad—including 11 security personnel from the Armed Police Force, four from Nepal Police and four forest guards—has been searching the forests to capture the killer cats.
The Division Forest Office will also be providing insurance to those living in the fringes, where the chances of human-wildlife conflicts are high. “We are going to launch various types of insurance policies in coordination with the community forests, the municipality office and donor agencies,” said Uprety.
As per the existing legal provisions of the country, the family of a person killed in wildlife attack will receive Rs1 million. An individual who suffers from serious injuries in wildlife attack will get compensation of Rs200,000, whereas a victim with minor injuries will receive Rs20,000. The compensation amount in case of crop depredation by wild animals is Rs20,000.
Baral said, “The Division Forest Office in Tanahun has also provided Rs4 million compensation to the families of four children (who were killed in leopard attacks) and Rs400,000 as relief to victims who sustained injuries in leopard attacks.”