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Loss of prey forcing leopards to assault youngsters in Nepal

TANAHUN, Nepal – In the last four years, eleven children have died, and several more have been injured in leopard attack cases in Tanahun district in Nepal.

According to the Division Forest Office, Tanahun, a nine-year-old girl from Bahun Bhanjyang in Bandipur, was the latest casualty when a leopard fatally attacked her on October 11.

Since 2018, several leopard attacks have been reported in Bhanu, Byas, Shuklagandaki, Bandipur, and Aanbukhaireni. Efforts to prevent leopards from invading human communities have so far been fruitless.

Families living in regions where leopard attacks have been reported have been urged by the Division Forest Office and local governments to remain watchful and not allow their children to wander too far from home.

According to Komalraj Kafle of the Division Forest Office, leopards leave their habitat due to a lack of prey.

“We have to keep in mind the prey density in areas where the leopards live. An increase in human activity over the years has not only degraded the leopard habitat but also led to prey depletion,” said Kafle. “Lack of prey is what is driving the leopards out of the forest and into human settlements.”

The forest service has set up video traps and erected artificial watering holes in community forests to keep leopards from wandering out of their natural habitat.

“The watering holes were constructed in hopes that they would attract animals like deer and rabbits, which the leopards can prey on,” Kafle said.

The office has also erected traditional snares to control leopards preying on children and livestock. Eleven leopards were trapped and moved to Chitwan National Park and other sites.

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However, the safeguards to keep leopards out of human settlements appear to have failed since leopard attacks in Tanahun have continued unabated.

(Photo credit: AP).