Wildlife Dept Hires Local Hunters To Kill Leopard

Srinagar: Belying the tall claims of being self-sufficient and self-reliant in dealing with wild animals, the wildlife department has roped-in five local professional hunters to catch or eliminate the man-eater leopard that mauled a five-year old girl to death in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district last week.

The five local hunters engaged by the Wildlife Department are the foot soldiers of Non-Profit Trust, Social Reforms Organisations (SRO) Batamaloo, reports and officials said Monday.

The five-member team of hunters is led by Manzoor Ahmed who like other members of his team has been repeatedly called by the Wildlife Department whenever such incidents where eliminating or catching vicious beasts turns quite difficult. The team of hunters is currently scattered in around 12 Kms from the place of incident where the girl was killed on Friday last.

Since past 72-hours, Manzoor and his team and the sharpshooters from the Wildlife Department have baited the beast with all kinds of traps in order to ensure repeat of minor girl’s killing but the man-eater is nowhere to be seen

“I’m sure this operation will come to an end because Manzoor Sahab and his team have been involved in several such incidents where the wild beast continues to run from the traps for days but in the end, these 5 hunters nab down the man-eater,” Mohammed Afaaq Sayeed, the founding member of SRO told Kashmir Observer

He said that these volunteers-cum-hunters were directly called by the officials of the Wildlife Department to provide their professional skills in assisting the department’s sharpshooters to catch or eliminate the man-eating leopard.

He also added that since past three days these hunters from SRO have been assisting the Wildlife professionals in surveying the Ompora jungles but so far they haven’t spotted the wild beast.

Following the killing of a five year old girl, the Budgam authority headed by the Deputy Commissioner Shahbaz Ahmed Mirza had declared the leopard as a ‘man-eater’ and had directed the Wildlife Department to eliminate the leopard as soon as possible.

“We have directed our teams to try their best in tranquilizing the leopard but if there is no way of catching it alive, we’ve ordered our hunters to eliminate the ‘man-eater” on spot,” Rashid Naqash, the regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, told Kashmir Observer.

But the calling in of local hunters has raised eyebrows among the locals and substantiating their allegations that the Wildlife Department’s incompetency in tackling the man-animal conflict in Budgam specifically in Ompora was the prior reason behind the five year old girl’s death.

But refuting all such allegations, Wildlife Warden, Wetlands, Ifshana Diwan said that since Friday morning she has received several panic calls from the locals of Ompora and that was the main reason why the local hunters were engaged.

“Calling in local hunters is the only way to assuage local panic. When a human death occurs, as in Ompora case, fears start gripping the local populace and allegations start pouring against the Wildlife Department, so hiring more professional hunters helps to take quick action against the man-eater and also calms down the growing allegations and panic among the public,” she added.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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