Manali : The man-animal conflict turned bloody in old Manali where a pair of leopards entered human inhabitations, killed pets and attacked humans on Sunday morning.
Residents and hoteliers in Log Huts area of Manali on Saturday informed forest department officials that two leopards were roaming freely in the region. The free moving big cats were sighted by mane residents of the locality. Later the leopards disappeared but soon five sheep in the area were found killed.
On Sunday morning, residents of Old Manali village woke up to a fresh blanket of snow and were surprised when they saw a leopard roaming freely in the village streets and roads.
The residents complained that after informing the forest department officials they were expecting timely help in capturing the animal but it took them too long to reach the village. The villagers also allege that officials asked them to stay calm until a tranquilliser shooting gun reached Manali from Sundarnagar in Mandi district which is at a 5 hour driving distance from Manali.
“My father was attacked when he was out for his morning walk,” said Roshan, son of Taape Ram, the victim attacked by the leopard. “He has sustained injuries on head and arm and is getting treatment in hospital. Eye witnesses told me that he gave a good fight to the leopard, after which the leopard left him. We are surprised that the forest department sent down only one person to capture the animal. It was the villagers who helped him in capturing the leopard. Thankfully it was Sunday, otherwise the area remains frequented with small school kids,” added Roshan.
Divisional forest officer Dr Neeraj Chadha said the victim Taape Ram, 67, who sustained injuries has been extended Rs 5,000/ as immediate relief. “The captured leopard too was being treated and would be sent to Palampur,” he said.
Dr Vinay Sharma, senior veterinary officer Manali speaking to Hill Post said, “leopards are famous for their ability to go undetected. They may live practically among humans and still be tough to spot. Amongst the big cats they are probably the most accomplished stalkers. They are good, agile climbers and can descend from a tree headfirst. Along with climbing, they are strong swimmers but not as fond of water as tigers. They are mainly nocturnal but can be seen at any time of day and will even hunt during daytime on overcast days.”
Leopards from the cat family have elongated and muscular bodies. Their paws are broad and their ears are short. In tropical regions their coats tend to be shorter and sleeker, whereas in colder climates like Manali their fur is longer and denser, said Sharma. The throat, chest, belly, and the insides of the limbs are white. The rest of the head, throat, chest, and limbs all have small black spots. The belly has larger black spots, almost like blotches.
Sanjay Dutta, an engineer by qualification but is a journalist by choice.
He has worked for the premier new agency Press Trust of India and leading English daily Indian Express.
With more than a decade of experience, he has been highlighting issues related to environment, tourism and other aspects affecting mountain ecology.
Sanjay Dutta lives in a village close to Manali in Kullu valley of Himachal.