Pune: The Junnar forest division has proposed a series of measures to mitigate leopard attacks during the ongoing cane-cutting season, which commenced on November 1 and is to continue until the end of May 2024, reported The Times of India
Given the prevalence of at least 20 to 25 leopard attacks reported annually in the past two years within the Junnar division, the suggested precautions aim to enhance safety.
Key measures include the establishment of makeshift tents or settlements equipped with adequate power connections near villages, along with the suspension of cane-cutting activities during the night. Amol Satpute, Deputy Conservator of Forest for Junnar division, emphasized the need for vigilance, stating, “We have to always be ready to counter leopard attacks when the cane cutting season starts.”
To address potential emergencies, the division has assembled a special team stationed at a village on the border of Junnar, Ambegaon, and Shirur tehsils. This dedicated squad will be available to respond to calls 24×7. Satpute stated, “Our special squad will respond to calls all the time throughout the cane-crushing season. We have asked the sugar factories and villagers to take preventive measures to keep check on the leopard attacks.”
Collaborating with officials from sugar mills, Smita Rajhans, the Manchar range forest officer, expressed the importance of following the recommended measures to effectively address the issue. Forest officials are actively raising awareness among sugarcane cutters, advising them to adopt basic safety measures such as bursting firecrackers or creating noise before entering the fields, particularly during the early morning hours.
However, some challenges have been reported by officials from sugar mills, who find it challenging to identify suitable locations for setting up makeshift tents for sugar canecutters in villages. “We need a significant vacant space to set up a temporary settlement for villagers, their domestic animals, and bullock carts. We face this issue in most villages,” noted the officials.