Jharkhand forest department has hired India’s most sought-after hunter Shafat Ali Khan from Hyderabad to tranquilise and capture the ‘man-eater’ leopard in Garhwa district.
Shafat Ali Khan, 64, who has more than four decades of tracking and eliminating wild animals when they turn dangerous for humans is expected to arrive in Garhwa, around 260km from Jharkhand capital Ranchi on Wednesday.
“We have got permission from the principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Shashikar Samanta for tranquilising and capturing the animal in the south forest division of Garhwa.However, we are yet to get permission for the shooting of the animal which is required by the shooters in case of wild animal attacks during the process of tranquilization. We are expecting it from the authorities soon. The experts in the form of Shafat Ali Khan and his son Asghar Khan will be arriving in Garhwa on Wednesday. We have also constituted a panel to oversee the operation as mandated by the wildlife law,” said the conservator of forest Garhwa, Dilip Kumar Yadav.
Sources said the senior forest officials gave permission for tranquilising and capturing the leopard after it killed four persons in December.
The forest officials of Garhwa are also taking the help of Shahzad Khan, a local resident who is doing research work at the Wildlife Institute of India in collecting necessary information related to leopards in affected forest areas.
“Shafat Ali Khan does not charge for tranquilising and helping to capture a man-eating leopard or even killing it as a last resort. The forest department bears the other expenses including their travel. He does it as a social worker,” said a local forest official in Garhwa.
“We have also ordered three automatic cages from Meerut (UP) to trap the man-eating leopard. The order for the construction of the cage was given on December 19. It is being delayed due to fog and we are expecting its arrival any moment. At the moment we have only one such cage. After the arrival of the automatic cages they will be installed at different locations,” said Yadav.
Forest officials informed that 10 teams each comprising 10 members have been deployed to keep an eye on the leopard.
The forest department has also installed 60 trap cameras in the villages known to be frequented by the leopard.
“A seven-member team has been constituted to oversee and provide technical guidance to the operation,” said an official. The leopard killed a 12-year-old boy Harendra Nayak at Kushwar village in Garhwa’s Ramkanda block on December 28.
A six-year-old girl was killed in Sevadih village on December 19, while another six-year-old child was killed in Rodo village on December 14. On December 10, a 12-year-old girl was killed in the Chhipadohar area in Latehar’s Barwadih block.