Wildlife experts and activists have called for strict action against people who were responsible for the death of a leopard cub in Mysuru on Wednesday. The one-year-old cub was hunted, paraded and put on public display after its death, violating many sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The state forest department has directed the local district officials to take action.Expressing serious concern over the rising incidents of mobs lynching leopards in the state, they say what is needed is forest and police action against such offenders and an awareness campaign to co-exist with leopards.
In the recent months, there have been such instances in the districts of Ballari, Davangere, Tumakuru and Mysuru among others where leopards were targeted by mobs and killed when it entered residential layouts. In fact, two leopards were beaten to death by mobs in Davangere.G Veeresh, wildlife conservationist, said, “Since people have harmed the animal, a hunting case should be booked. Also, taking selfies and publicly displaying wildlife — dead or alive — is an offence under this Act. People whose photos are there on social media should be booked.”
Wildlife activist R S Tejus added, “The Supreme Court had recently asked the Centre to draft a new legislation against mob lynching. It will be better if they include mob violence against wild animals as a punishable offence.”
Learn to co-exist
Leopard experts say with almost half the population of leopards living outside protected areas, people have to learn to co-exist with them. In fact, leopard cubs are often sighted in areas that have grassland, rocky terrain and dry deciduous habitat. Research studies have revealed that at least 70 taluks in Karnataka are home to this highly protected species.
According to Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist and leopard researcher, the Mysuru incident denotes a clear mob mentality where the cub was hunted by people as it often happens in cities. There are clear-cut central guidelines to deal with such situations and the forest department should take action against the people.