11 children killed in leopard attacks in four years in TanahunPrey depletion is driving leopards outside their habitat and into human settlements, officials say.
Eleven children have lost their lives and several others have been injured in leopard attack incidents in Tanahun district in the last four years.
A nine-year-old girl from Bahun Bhanjyang in Bandipur became the latest victim when a leopard fatally mauled her on October 11, according to the Division Forest Office, Tanahun.
Several leopard attack incidents have been reported in places like Bhanu, Byas, Shuklagandaki, Bandipur and Aanbukhaireni since 2018. The efforts made so far to stop the leopards from entering the human settlements have gone in vain.
“We live in constant fear. We do not get out after nightfall,” said Laxmi Gurung of Bandipur Rural Municipality-5.
Sita Adhikari of Bhanu Municipality said leopards have killed six children in different parts of the township since 2018.
“Bhanu Municipality has suffered the most loss of lives. We can do nothing, except be on our guard all the time. We try not to go outside early in the morning and after sunset,” said Adhikari.
Leopards have also killed children in Shuklagandaki, Bandipur and Aanbukhaireni.
The Division Forest Office and the local governments have urged people living in the areas where leopard attacks have been reported to remain vigilant and not let their children go too far away from home.
Komalraj Kafle of Division Forest Office said leopards are getting out of their habitat due to prey depletion.
“We have to keep in mind the prey density in areas where the leopards live. Increase in human activity over the years has not only degraded the leopard habitat but also led to prey depletion,” said Kafle. “Lack of prey is what is driving the leopards out of the forest and into human settlements.”
The forest office has installed camera traps to track the movement of leopards and constructed artificial watering holes in community forests to prevent them from straying out of their habitat.
“The watering holes were constructed in hopes that they would attract animals like deer and rabbits which the leopards can prey on,” said Kafle.
The office has also installed traditional snares to control the leopards that have been preying on children and livestock. As many as 11 leopards have been trapped in snares and relocated to Chitwan National Park and other locations.
However, the measures to prevent leopards from entering human settlements seem to have fallen short as there has been no let up in leopard attack incidents in Tanahun.