Living with leopard, Karwar villagers show the way

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Living with leopard, Karwar villagers show the way

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Almost every morning, a leopard and its two cubs relax on a hilly forested patch in Baithakola village near Karwar in Uttara Kannada district. And at dusk too, the big cat and its little ones are found in the same patch lolling about.

But the villagers don’t panic. This is a regular sight, they say fondly. Incidents of conflict between humans and leopard are nowadays very common in the urban milieu. People from different parts of the state have been urging for relocation of big cats from their respective areas. However, residents of Baithakola have allowed the feline family to live happily in their midst. They have demonstrated their sheer concern for a mother leopard which is nurturing her two cubs and have learned to co-exist with it.

Villagers have been very tolerant of their presence and not made any efforts to drive away the leopard family unlike the recent incidents at Ramanagara, Ballari or Tumakuru. In fact, they have requested the Karwar forest officials not to take any action.

A local resident Shyamala says, “We have no conflict with the leopard which is rearing its cubs. It comes early morning with its cubs to relax on the hills. Then once again, it comes during dusk. This is her regular routine. She has not troubled us at all. “

Karwar DCF Ganapathi told TNIE that this is a continuous patch of pristine forests and people here are more tolerant.

Karwar DCF Ganapathi told The New Indian Express, “Baithakola village inhabited by fishermen is in the midst of a forest. And the leopard has never come out into the open to trouble these people. So the acceptance level is high; however, initially, people were scared. We convinced them, and they started adjusting to the idea of a leopard in their midst.”

He further said that local fishermen are not dependent on forests for their needs. Their lifestyle is such that most of the day, they are out for fishing. Conflicts are hence less in these thickly forested regions.
“We are maintaining utmost vigil on the big cat’s movements and during night times, it is camera-trapped,” he said.

The female leopard is 4-5 years old and this is her first or second breed. Usually the leopard family comes from one side and escapes into the forest from another side.

Wildlife activists say with a healthy presence of prey in these forests and local people used to sightings of wild animals, they have learned to live peacefully and co-exist with them. Karwar is the state’s forest district, teeming with lot of wild species, including big cats.

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