VILLUPURAM: Rumours of a leopard on the prowl in the Gingee forest area have triggered fear among the villagers for sometime now with even the forest officials confused about how to tackle the big cat. However, the Forest Department has decided not to relocate the leopard as it had not caused trouble to the villagers.
The movement of leopard in Sozhangunam and Sathanathal districts near Gingee Reserve Forest had created panic among the villagers with many of their cattle including calves, dogs and goats falling prey to the wild animal. However, the forest officials had at first disregarded the presence of the big cat and thought that it may be a dhole (Asiatic wild dog). They then traced the pugmarks and sent it to Vandalur which confirmed the presence of the leopard in the area.
According to a source, the Forest Department officials are in a dilemma whether to catch and relocate the leopard or to let it remain in the forest. They contacted the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Trust (WNCT) members for help. WNCT founder Sadiq Ali and his team visited the villages. “After interacting with the villagers, we found that the leopards have been living in that area for more than 50 years. It entered the village in search of water as the water body in the forest got dried up due to the drought,” said Sadiq Ali.
He further said, “The leopard won’t attack until we cause it any trouble. We have suggested the Forest officials not to take any action.”