For the past 15 days, fear has been looming large in the minds of the villagers of Nuh district, earlier known as Mewat, following the spotting of two leopards and their cubs in the area.
Fresh pug marks of a leopard were found in several villages on Friday morning, reviving fears that the big cat was still prowling in the vicinity. Villagers said they were probably wandering in search of water. However, according to wildlife officials, there is enough water in the forest for next the three to four months.
The residents of Pathkori, Bhond, Mandawar and Ferozepur Jirka villages in Nuh have traced about a dozen pug marks of leopards and their cubs in their green fields in the lap of the Aravalli hills, which are spread across an area of 25 kilometres.
According to the villagers, three youths from Ferozepur Jirka were on their way to the village temple through Tijara road on Wednesday night at around 9 pm, when they spotted a leopard sitting on the rock in the outskirts of the village. When the three tried to flee from the scene, the leopard made an attempt to attack them. However, they were able to escape unscathed in the nick of time.
“We were shocked to spot the leopard who had just come down from the hills. We slowed down the speed of our motorbike and waited there for a few minutes hoping that it would return to the jungle. However, the animal saw us and rushed towards us. I have no idea at what speed I drove, but we somehow managed to reach our village safely,” Hassan Mohammad, a labourer from the village, said.
The villagers also alleged that 10 goats and four calves were missing from the village. Wildlife officials, on the other hand, denied any such attack on animals. They said they visited the area on Thursday and found only pug marks and no carcasses.
“There have been cases before when leopards have attacked livestock in the village. After the Wednesday incident, no one from the village is able to venture out after dark,” said Arshad Alvi, a resident of village Ferozepur Jhirka. A team of wildlife officials was sent to the villages, following the complaints of their residents. It has been asked to submit a report within two days, said an official.
Sunil Kumar Tanwar, wildlife inspector, informed that the team visited these villages and spoke to a number of villagers who were fearing a man-animal conflict like Mandawar, where a leopard was beaten to death by a village mob, but not before it had injured 13 residents on November 24, 2016.
“Here the case is different. Leopards are usually seen at culverts near the village, but do not enter the village.” he said. Vinod Kumar, the additional principal chief conservator of forests, said the leopards were roaming in their habitat and have not attacked anyone in the village.
Nonetheless, villagers have been asked not to enter the jungle and graze their animals on panchayat lands.