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Locals of Tanahu perform puja at the Thakrek Kalika Devi temple to prevent leopard attacks.

Nepal: Tanahu folk hold puja to prevent leopard attacks

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) -- As leopards continue to enter human settlements, locals in Tanahun have been scrambling to find measures to contain the animal. The locals had even used wooden snares, a traditional measure, to trap wild animals. But this too hasn’t been as effective as expected.
The agitated locals have now concluded that the leopard incursion is the result of goddess Devi’s wrath. As a remedy, locals from wards 1, 2, 3, and 4, on Tuesday, performed a puja at the Thakrek Kalika Devi temple in Nareswhartar to appease the Devi.
“Since all measures have failed, we figured the Devi was unhappy with us,” said Seeta Adhikari, a local from Bhanu Municipality-2. In the municipality’s ward numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4, leopards have killed six children and 70 cattle and injured seven people in the past two years.
Two hundred fifty households participated in the puja for which two goats were sacrificed.
“This kind of puja is typical of Chaite Dashain (a festival celebrated in April), but we suspected that the procedures were not proper in last year’s festival,” Adhikari said. “So we are trying to correct that with this puja.”
“We are hopeful that this puja will help dissuade leopards from entering our settlements,” said Prem Bahadur Thapa, another local. “It’s done according to our beliefs and religion. But we also believe that advanced measures should be taken to control leopard attacks.”
Among other measures, nine traditional wooden cages have been built in community forests around Bhanu Municipality. The cages have trapped two male leopards so far. Officials at the District Forest Office said the exact number of leopards in the forest hasn’t yet been ascertained.
Maya Manandhar, another local, said the frequent incidents of leopard attacks have affected the villagers’ lifestyle. “These days, the villages turn silent as soon as five in the evening,” Manandhar said. “And the lights are on throughout the night.”
Kedar Baral, chief of the Division Forest Office, said the office has set up various measures such as ‘foot trap’, ‘camera trapping’, and traditional cages to trap leopards. Gandaki Province has allocated Rs3 million to contain leopard menace in Tanahun. “We are preparing to deploy a team to capture leopards,” said Kiran Gurung, acting chief minister of Gandaki province.


(Latest Update November 7, 2019)

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