CHANDIGARH: In the controversial hunt for the man-eating leopard of Thunag (Mandi), a cub was killed by local villagers on the night of August 16 near Lah Gala village. The cub is believed to be the offspring of the suspected man-eater, a female that is believed to have killed three humans and injured one since July 18.
Meanwhile, three ‘shikaris’ from Kangra region who had been summoned by the Himachal government to assist the hunt led by Nawab Shafath Ali Khan of Hyderabad, have returned home. The ‘shikaris’ returned as the forest and wildlife department had not given them written permission to shoot a leopard, and yet had pressed them into the hunt. Narendra Singh, one of the ‘shikaris’ who returned home, said, “At around 8.30 pm on August 16, I came across two vehicles on the road from Lah Gala to Thunag. I was in a forest department vehicle and accompanied by a guard and a driver. One leopard cub was shot by the local persons, who were travelling in an Alto car and another vehicle. I requested the conservator of forest to trap the other cub and we could use it to lure the mother but my plea was turned down.”
On that night, Narendra was accompanied by conservator of forests (Kullu) B S Rana and Khan, who were in another vehicle. The cub was shot by local ‘shikaris’, while Rana took a picture of the other cub. One innocent male leopard was shot by Khan on August 11 on the Lamba Thach-Jhanjeli road. “Myself, Rakesh also from my village, and one Dhiman from Nagrota, who is in the business of guns, returned from the hunt on Saturday as we were not given written permission to shoot a leopard. I felt it would be very risky for me to kill a leopard without written permission. We had come to Thunag to shoot the leopard on the asking of DFO (Nachan) P D Dogra,” Narendra said.
When contacted, Dogra cut the cellphone when TOI asked him for comments on the killing of the cub and authorizing ‘shikaris’ without written permission. Rana was also not available for comments.
The hunting licence granted for killing a leopard, a Schedule I animal, is explicit: The team will hunt only the dangerous leopard/man-eater and will not hunt/damage other wildlife”.