Baitadi locals face leopard menaceThe problem cannot be resolved until wildlife experts conduct a study on leopards in the area and recommend action, officials say.
On Wednesday evening Harkesh Saud, was mauled by a leopard at his home in Tallo Swarad in Shivanath Rural Municipality, Baitadi.
The incident terrorised villagers.
It’s not just Saud, leopards have been attacking residents in Shivanath Rural Municipality and its neighbouring Melauli and Pancheswor municipalities for about a decade.
According to Division Forest Office, Baitadi, 24 people have been mauled to death by leopards in the past eight years, and more than 22 have been injured in Tallo Swarad alone. Most of the victims are women and children.
Naresh Tiruwa, a resident of Pancheswor, said people don’t roam the village alone in the evening or during foggy days in the fear of being eaten alive. “There’s no electricity in our village. This is why leopards easily enter our settlement,” said Tiruwa, adding that women and children are more frightened of leopard attacks.
Because of this, children in these areas have also been forced to skip school. Ram Singh Madai, a local resident of Shivanath, who lost his son in a leopard attack on September 2019, said children only dare to go school if four/five of them are travelling together. “We have been worried about our children,” said Madai.
The local forest office has tried to address the problem, but their effort hasn’t been effective. “We have distributed 250 solar panels to the villages and also raised awareness among the locals through radio programmes. But, the problem still persists,” said Division Forest Officer Keshav Prasad Parajuli.
Officials said that the problem cannot be resolved until wildlife experts conduct a study on leopards in the area and recommend action. “We don’t have sufficient budget and expertise to conduct the study. We notified higher authorities about the problem a year ago,” said Parajuli.
Even local governments don’t have plans to stop the deal with the problem, locals say. Karna Singh Saud, chairman of Shivanath Rural Municipality, said that they are spreading awareness among the locals. He said, “We will bring a concrete plan to mitigate the problem in the near future.”
As per existing legal provisions, the family of a person killed in wildlife attack receives Rs1 million in compensation. An individual who suffers from serious injuries due to a wildlife attack gets Rs200,000, whereas a victim with minor injuries receives Rs20,000. The compensation amount in case of crop depredation is Rs20,000.