Janardhan Sharma heard the crack of dawn, literally that is. The resident near Tocklai tea estate woke up on Thursday on hearing a roar from his cowshed.
He rushed there only to find a leopard preying on one of his cows by breaking open the bamboo barricade.
“On seeing me, it escaped. But by then the cow which was bleeding profusely was dead,” he said.
The tea estate’s watchman Hari Chandra said after the lockdown was declared leopards were roaming around freely in the tea estate.
“I saw at least five in the tea estate in the last few days. Never before had I seen so many leopards,” he said.
The forest department has installed a cage following a complaint lodged by Janardhan. “We are hopeful the particular leopard will be trapped soon as it is most likely to return to eat its prey,” he said.
He added that it is quite natural for leopards to move freely in the garden due to less human presence because of the lockdown.
Activities in tea estates across Assam have come to a grinding halt following the lockdown.
The development is set to deal a severe blow to the tea industry as it is the peak production season. Although the government has allowed resumption of production in the tea estates, hardly a few are doing so because of the fear of the deadly virus.
Large parts of the estate had become thick forests as no cleaning activities were carried out for a long time, Chandra said.
He added that the management had not done much to develop the garden probably due to lack of funds.