A leopard was camera trapped on Sunday at Ukkalgere Betta in T. Narsipur close to the place where the first of the two human killings took place in the taluk.
This has infused fresh optimism of the leopard’s early capture even as there has been a change of strategy with the focus now shifting to M.L. Hundi where Manjunath was killed on October 31.
The authorities had camped in and around Kebbehundi where Meghna was killed by a leopard on Thursday.
Malathi Priya, Chief Conservator of Forests, Mysuru circle, said that the combing operations were concentrated around Kebbehundi where the second killing took place. But now that there is a camera trapped image of a leopard near M.L. Hundi where Manjunath was killed, the operations will shift there, she said.
It appears to be the same leopard whose images were captured by the camera traps when the first killing took place, said Ms. Malathi Priya.
Apart from camera trapped images, there were fresh pug marks and scats in the vicinity giving strong indications that the leopard was lurking nearby.
As there are nearly 120 forest personnel engaged in combing operations including the special tiger force squad, a section of them will continue to monitor the area around Kebbehundi as well.
The Forest Department has also deployed drones for aerial monitoring and survey in areas not easily accessible, especially in the hilly terrains.
The distance between the two villages is hardly 12 km and is easily covered by the leopard and hence the speculation of the involvement of the same leopard in both the killings.
Meanwhile, Rajiv Ranjan, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Development), holding concurrent charge of PCCF (Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden) visited T. Narsipur on Sunday and interacted with officials.
He apprised himself of the developments pertaining to combing and has also instructed that one member of both the families be provided a job for ensuring their livelihood.
Deputy Commissioner of Mysuru K.V. Rajendra has also promised to consider the department’s request of early harvesting of standing sugarcane in the 23 villages where leopards are frequently sighted, said Ms. Malathi Priya.
Large swathes of agricultural tracts in and around T. Narsipur have paddy and sugarcane plantation. As the landscape is also surrounded by shrub vegetation and forests the habitat is ideal for leopards to thrive.
‘’The dense sugarcane plantation makes it difficult to scan the place for pugmarks and leopard’s presence even with drone and hence the appeal for harvesting sugarcane on a priority basis,” she added.