Over a thousand families at Housing Colony Ompora and adjacent localities in central Kashmir’s Budgam district have been caught in fear after locals on Monday spotted several leopards in the area.
The Wildlife Department has deputed a team to catch the wild cats.
The animals, numbering at least two, were spotted climbing the compound wall and walking around by Syed Shahnawaz Bukhari, a senior government officer residing in the colony on Monday evening on his CCTV camera footage in the backyard of his house after which he posted it online.
“Leopard in my backyard. Ompora Colony dwellers may please avoid moving out,” Bukhari cautioned on his Facebook page.
Following the caveat, the entire area has been living in constant fear with locals avoiding to venture out during early and late hours, Bukhari said while speaking to Greater Kashmir.
Wildlife Warden for Budgam district, Ifshana Diwan told Greater Kashmir that a team has been deputed on the ground since early Tuesday morning to catch the leopards.
Ifshana said the cats are nocturnal thus making it difficult for the officials to catch them during the day.
Bashir Ahmad, the Control Room in-charge for the department in Budgam district, has been leading a 15-member team since morning that has set a cage in the area to catch the wild animals.
Ahmad said it was a challenge to catch the leopard that is believed to be hiding in the dense nursery at Khanpur area even as they are setting up two more cages there.
The local Wildlife Warden, Diwan attributed the frequent appearance of the big cats in the area to the nearby dense nursery which has become a safe haven for the animals.
“We have been receiving panic calls about the presence of leopards in the area for a couple of years now. There are other reasons like humans encroaching on the wild life and urbanization of far flung areas but the area we are talking about is not far from the city,” Diwan said.
She further said they had submitted a report to the Deputy Commissioner Budgam asking for thinning the nursery.
“If we make the nursery less dense the appearance of leopards will automatically stop, as they would have nowhere to hide and to take shelter,” Ifshan added.
Notably, three leopards have been caught by the department from the same area since July last year, Ifshan informed, adding that many of the team members had received serious injuries in the process.
Videos of leopards entering residential areas have been flooding social media for quite some time.
Recently, on 24th of last month, a leopard was reportedly killed by a mob in south Kashmir’s Pulwama after it injured two villagers.