Maneater of Devprayag / Chandmari.

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prashantsingh
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Maneater of Devprayag / Chandmari.

Post by prashantsingh » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:52 am

July 23rd 2011.
In a remote village a girl in her teens goes out from her house in the early hours of the morning to her uncles house barely 100 yards away.
She does not return by afternoon. The Uncle has not seen her. They assume she has gone to the school instead. By evening a search is launched.
The girls head and a small portion of the leg are found in the lantana bush barely 50 yards below the narrow mule track which connects the two houses.
The work of a Leopard. A clever and cunning animal . What is amazing is that no one has heard a sound or seen anything unusual till the remains are found.
Her beautiful long hair entangled so badly in the bush that they have to be cut through . The left over are put together and cremated on a pyre.

Traps are placed and two days later a leopard is caught by the Forest Officials in the early hours of the morning. Word spreads like wild fire and within half an hour more than 300 people assemble to watch the "tamasha". One of them shouts "Maar do saale ko" and the crowd roars with approval. They are ready to burn the animal alive. The four forest guards and two police constables are out numbered. Yet they hold their ground and try to control the crowd.
The leopard is furious. A wild animal stuck in a 6feet by 2 feet trap with a mob roaring revenge in close proximity. He makes an all out attempt to escape. The trap is strong.
Half an hour trough , an old man sitting in the corner and watching the "fun" gets up and shouts "Bhaaghi gee saala". All eyes turn towards the cage and sure enough they find the "Devil" escape through the smallest opening , jump down the ridge and vanish into the thick undergrowth.
The villagers are out raged. They demand the Admn. to immediately put an end to the menace, else they will block the National Highway. The main road which connects the famous temples of Badrinath and Hemkund Saheb Gurudwara.
I get a call from a friend who happens to be a Govt. appointed hunter. He is leaving for the spot (more than 300 kms from his place). He is packing up and asks me if I would like to join in. "Sure" I say. Postpone all appointments. Pack my bags and decide to meet up at Rishikesh. A small town in the foothills of the Himalaya.
In the next few days I will talk about my experience of the past 3 days.
The leopard is still at large.
As night sets in I am forced to think of these helpless hill folks . In this remote part of India. Where running water, good roads and electricity are things of luxury. Where the poor folk toil hard throughout the day to earn their day's bread.
In these hills the leopard is not seen as a majestic and beautiful big cat.....but as a devil.
A thief who lifts their cattle.
A murderer who kills their children.

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Safarigent
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by Safarigent » Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:09 am

and it will happen with increasing regularity.
man animal conflict hasnt been a topic which has been handled properly in this country.
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by dr.jayakumar » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:07 am

how far can you be sure that you are tracking the same leopard?
kindly post often and update on this venture.are you still on the hunt?

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by dev » Sun Jul 31, 2011 10:20 am

Wow, what a tale. I almost skipped it thinking that it was a discussion on Carpet Sahib.
But I will be glued to this thread from now on, keep em coming.
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by The Doc » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:27 am

dev wrote:Carpet Sahib.
:mrgreen:

Bravo Prashant !

best,
Rp.
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by hvj1 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:46 am

Hello Prashant Singh
You have a fascinating and rivetting style of narrating a story, reminiscent of the great Anderson and Corbett. Keep it up buddy. Sincerely hope that you take your camera along also.
Best Regards

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by timmy » Sun Jul 31, 2011 11:57 am

Prashant: very interesting and sad story. I'm anxious to hear your updates when you get the opportunity to write again.
Regards,
tim

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by Kazim » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:41 pm

I think leopard human conflict is increasing rapidly than any other predator human conflict.Wildlife experts should check out its population if their number is more than india need then they should take some solid steps.

And i am keen to know the remains of this story so please update it dear prashant.

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by hvj1 » Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:59 pm

Kazim wrote:I think leopard human conflict is increasing rapidly than any other predator human conflict.Wildlife experts should check out its population if their number is more than india need then they should take some solid steps.
And what solid steps do you have in mind?

-- Sun Jul 31, 2011 1:59 pm --
Kazim wrote:I think leopard human conflict is increasing rapidly than any other predator human conflict.Wildlife experts should check out its population if their number is more than india need then they should take some solid steps.
And what solid steps do you have in mind?

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by Kazim » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:25 pm

The solid steps that i think are
1.Make a selected number of leopards unfertile.
2.Allow killing of those leopards who become maneater or cattle lifter instead of translocating them.

prashantsingh
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by prashantsingh » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:07 pm

I had to come home as I had missed out on work.
My friend Mr S Singh stayed back. I will be joining him again this week end.
Hunting a maneating leopard in the mountains is very different from any other form of hunting. Most of all it is very time consuming.Somewhat like looking for a needle in a haystack. It may take anything from a few weeks to a few months or at times even years. Rarely does the "Shikar Party" get the animal in a few days.
Mr Singh has shot 9 maneaters earlier and is an expert hunter.
drjayakumar. You are very right when you question how a hunter can track the same maneater. No one can be 100% sure that he is after the right animal.Even Jim Corbett (inspite his amazing knowledge of the jungle) shot animals in a case of mistaken identity. You can only say that the right animal has been shot , after all human killings stop. By the grace of God all the places where Singh shot his maneaters never reported a human killing subsequently. Hence we can say that till date he has shot the right animals. That is the reason why he is highly respected amongst the officials of the Forest Dept.
We saw a leopard during our night search once and had our sights placed on him. But Singh gave the benifit of doubt to the animal. He had a good look at the big cat through his binoculars in the power flash light. I shall talk about it in detail later.
Our meeting point was Rishikesh.
Fighting heavy rains , bad roads , landslides and traffic jams we finally reached Devprayag.
Devprayag is the Confluence of the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda to form the Ganga.
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by bodhijobs » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:40 pm

Getting thrilled with the write up...awsome...
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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by prashantsingh » Sun Jul 31, 2011 5:55 pm

Singh has a recorded footage of one of the maneaters his team shot a few years ago. The animal was brought to the market place. A large crowd gathered to see the dead leopard.
The video shows the Dist. Admn. officers congratulate the hunter on his success. Mid way through the recording one sees an old woman pushing her way through the large crowd. She has walked more than 5 kms to witness the event.She does not have the money to take a cab (jeep). Trembling and exhausted in the mid day Sun, she slowly walks up to the dead carcass. Suddenly, to everyones surprise she starts to beat the animal with her "laathi". After a few strikes she looses balance and falls to the ground. Her painful cries thereafter are bound to give you goosepimples.
This woman had lost her only son and daughter-in-law in a vehicular accident 10 years ago. The couple had left behind a young boy aged 5yrs. For a decade this woman had toiled to raise her grandson. Now 15 the boy had grown into a fine young man and was helping her grandmother with household chores. As luck would have it the boy had fallen prey to the maneater. The old woman was all alone now.
It is difficult to imagine the emotions she must have gone through at that moment.

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by ckkalyan » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:27 pm

Interesting real life story, well narrated - prashantsingh. Good effort...

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Re: Maneater of Devprayag

Post by Katana » Sun Jul 31, 2011 8:39 pm

Prashant,

I have been asked twice to help out with 'curbing' man eating leopards in Gujarat, once in Baria and the last one in Surat. Both times I have declined.

The reason is that I have yet to come to terms as to why this conflict has not been sorted out for so long. I agree that shooting the rogue animal is the last resort but for how will we go on with this?

In the case of Gujarat, I feel that there are two major factors playing at creating 'man eaters'. One is the reduction in the prey base and secondly, the advance of agriculture, especially since the govt gave land rights to tribals to convert forest lands into agriculture, thereby reducing their prey range.

Now leopards are intelligent animals, and they can adapt their methods to procure food in an astounding manner.
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