Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Tinsukia villagers fear animal attacks

There are 12 villages under Panikhowa gaon panchayat which house around 25,000 people

Manoj Kumar Ojha Doomdooma Published 20.06.19, 07:22 PM
A cow in an enclosure in Nazirating village.

A cow in an enclosure in Nazirating village. Picture by Manoj Kumar Ojha

Residents of Nazirating and adjoining villages under the Doomdooma forest division in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district are spending sleepless nights over a leopard, which has allegedly killed several livestock animals over the last few months.

There are 12 villages under Panikhowa gaon panchayat which house around 25,000 people. Most of them are farmers and dependent on animal husbandry.


Locals said leopards and elephants had killed dozens of livestock and damaged houses in the last couple of months. “My goat was killed just 200 metres from my house on Wednesday night. We have seen a leopard moving with a pair of cubs nearby,” said Lakshman Chetri, a resident of Nazirating.

Bhim Sarma, a priest, said, “I had saved money and bought a cow. But it went missing last week. I cannot afford to buy another one.”

Another villager, Bahadur Chetri, said: “Four of my goats are missing and I think they might have been killed by the leopard.”

Suraj Munda said more than one leopard may be killing their animals.

“We are afraid the leopard might attack our children while they are going to school,” said Munda.

Residents would leave their animals to graze and they would return home at the end of the day but now if it does not return, villagers assume it has become food for the big cat.

“Fear and panic has set among villagers and it is also causing great financial loss as a cow costs anything between Rs 15,000 and Rs 60,000,” said Munda.

He alleged there was no authority to address the concerns of the villagers. “They (forest officials) do not receive our calls. People are afraid to walk alone when night falls and they now walk in groups when they go to collect firewood or pluck tea leaves,” Munda said.

The villagers demanded protection for their livestock, which was a source of their livelihood.

Devajit Moran, secretary of NGO Green Bud Society, said, “There are several leopards, elephants and other wild animals in the nearby forests. They don’t normally enter human settlements. However, the animals may be killing livestock due to the lack of prey and shrinking of their habitat.”

Divisional forest officer Dilip Kumar Deka told The Telegraph: “We have received some complaints from the villagers regarding leopard attacks and have sent a team to take stock of the situation. We have requested a cage from the aviation research centre as other cages have already been set up in areas we earlier got complaints of leopard attacks. There is a provision for compensation for damages caused by wild animals. An assessment was being carried out in this regard.”

On Tuesday, a leopard carcass was recovered from a nullah of a private tea estate on the fringes of Upper Dehing reserve forest.

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