National

Leopard attacks on children increase in Arghakhanchi

- BIRENDRA KC, ARGHAKHANCHI

Nov 8, 2018-

On Saturday evening, four-year-old Aryan Ghimire was out in his front yard playing with his mother when suddenly a leopard jumped out from a bush and dragged him into a nearby forest. Ghimire’s shocked parents chased the leopard, found the boy’s abandoned body and rushed him to Sandhikharka Hospital for treatment. Unfortunately, the boy died on the way to the hospital.

This leopard attack has terrorised the people of Dhikura, Bhimikasthan Municipality-9, of which Ghimire was a resident, because this is only one of the many recent attacks that leopards have made on children in Arghakhanchi. Within the last three months alone, two children were killed in leopard attacks in the district, one of them being Sadikshya Rana, of Karandhunga in Sandhikharka, who was killed on Sept 11. In the past six years, fifteen children have been killed and eight others injured in leopard attacks.

Following Ghimire’s death, security has been tightened in the district, with 45 security personnel and locals deployed in Dhikura, Dhakrebas, Sursing and Khanchikot forests in the district to search for the leopard. Nothing has come of their search as of yet.

Chief District Officer Khimraj Bhusal said more than 100 people are still searching the forests to capture the killer cat/s. And the District Security Committee has also mobilised a security team with necessary equipment to find the animal/s.

Despite these efforts, the rise in leopard attacks has instilled a deep-seated fear in the villagers, making them scared to walk around their villages even in broad daylight. Many parents are now afraid to send their children to school as well.

Madhav Prasad Ghimire, Aryan’s grief-stricken father, said, “Our children are not safe even in our own courtyard.” Another local, Bimala Ghimire, who fears for her as well as her neighbourhood’s safety, demanded that security personnel capture the man-eating leopards. “We are finding it increasingly hard to perform our daily works. People have started to avoid walking around the villages alone for the fear of being eaten alive,” she said.

Forest Divisional Officer Ajaya Bikram Manandhar said that the leopards might have started entering human settlements in search of easy prey.

“There are bushes all around the settlements, which make perfect hiding spots for leopards,” said Manandhar, adding that the forest office will take an initiative to clean up the farmlands and community forest areas. “The forest office will also request people to destroy bushes around their houses and farmlands.”

To subdue locals’ fear, Deputy Mayor of the Bhumikasthan Municipality Khadananda Belbase said that the local government is setting up traps in two different places of Dhakebash and Miyale forests. If, and when, the leopards are captured, they will be sent to a national park.

Published: 08-11-2018 07:53

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