|Forest guards with a leopard beaten to death by villagers outside of Bhubaneshwar|
Recently, a wild leopard had strayed into the village of Gandarpur in the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar, Orissa. The animal was spotted by a group of children, who saw the animal while playing cricket and raised the alarm. At that moment, all the villagers rushed to the spot where the animal was and began pelting it with stones. At that moment, the leopard started running and launched a counter-attack injuring four people. However in the end, the villagers got the upper-hand and mercilessly beat the animal to death with sticks, iron rods, and cricket bats. According to sources, a team from the Nandankanan Zoo were notified to tranquilize and safely relocate the leopard. But alas, the frightened and naive villagers allegedly did not allow that. After the incident, the chief wildlife warden of Orissa ordered an inquiry from the divisional forest officer and file a report as soon as possible.
This report coincides with the one where a leopard was killed by villagers in Gujarat's Banaskantha district. When wild animals like this stray into a human settlement, chances are that they would either be left unharmed and released back into the wild by forest officials or they would be killed right on the spot. In both of these reported incidents, the result was death without question. It goes to show how villagers living amidst wild animals are vulnerable and vigilant. India has already lost around 130 leopards over the years. Majority of these deaths have been poaching, illegal wildlife trade, and human-leopard conflict. I deeply feel that, in order to put an end to this bloodshed, villagers living in the outskirts of major towns and cities should be educated in the importance of leopards and what roles they play in the jungle ecosystems. Forest officials in Bhitarkanika National Park had helped villagers learn about what makes saltwater crocodiles important in the park's wetlands, and provided them with safe alternative solutions in living together with their reptilian neighbors. Similarly, villagers living outside Bhubaneshwar should be taught about leopards and be provided with a safe alternatives which would minimize the chances of either side falling in the hands of another.
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