Leopard bites garden bait

An adult female leopard was trapped in the closed Bamundanga Tea Estate this morning after the animal had killed and devoured at least 40 heads of livestock owned by the workers.

The convener of the operating and maintenance committee of the garden, Shankar Guha Roy, said the forest department’s Khuni office had placed a trap about a fortnight back. “The guards kept a live goat inside the cage last evening and this morning, the leopard was discovered inside,” said Guha Roy.

Pradip Sau, a garden worker, said he had woken up around 4am hearing the leopard growling. “I took a stick and went where the trap was laid. The animal was trying to break out. I immediately raised the alarm and all the workers staying nearby came,” said Sau.

“We have lost 40 to 50 animals — cows, goats and pigs — to the leopard. We had been requesting the forest department to come to our aid for the past few months, but they remained aloof,” the labourer said.

Roy said the garden had 1,174 workers who subsisted by selling plucked tea leaves.

The ranger of Khunia, N. Saha, said the female leopard that was trapped seemed to be about five-year-old. “The garden is surrounded by Nathua, Gorumara, Khairkata and Diana forests and it is only natural that wild animals will stray into the area. It is not true that we are unaware of the problems faced by the garden dwellers.”

The officer said the leopard had been checked by a vet and released into the forest later in the afternoon.