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Bengaluru: Forest dept under scrutiny over dual stance on tiger pendant, leopard shooting

The Bengaluru leopard, captured by the Karnataka Forest Department, died due to gunshot wounds during an operation, sparking public outrage. The department's actions have been criticized, with questions raised about the use of lethal force under the Wildlife Protection Act. Alternatives and better training for forest personnel have been suggested, and concerns have been raised about the leopard's hunger and the department's recent handling of wildlife conservation issues.

Bengaluru: Forest dept under scrutiny over dual stance on tiger pendant, leopard shooting vkp
First Published Nov 2, 2023, 8:24 AM IST

The Bengaluru leopard captured by the Karnataka Forest Department sadly died due to gunshot wounds shortly after its capture during an operation assisted by sharpshooters and forest officials in Krishnareddy layout. This incident has triggered widespread public outrage on social media, casting doubt on the actions of the Karnataka Forest Department in urban wildlife conservation.

The leopard had been sighted in Krishnareddy layout for three days, prompting the forest department to launch efforts to capture it. However, these efforts ended in the leopard's death, with forest officials themselves admitting their gunfire caused the fatality.

Bengaluru: Captured leopard succumbs to bullet injury shortly after capture

The Karnataka Forest Department has recently faced scrutiny, particularly following the sudden arrest of Bigg Boss contestant Varthur Santhosh in connection with the Tiger claw pendant row. This incident highlighted the illegality of possessing and using animal parts, leading to questions about the department's approach to the Bengaluru leopard situation.

Critics are now questioning the application of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, in this case. This law permits the killing of wild animals in specific situations, particularly when they pose a threat to human safety, with authorization from the Chief Wildlife Warden. The Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) clarified that they had obtained permission after the leopard attacked their officers twice.

Despite these explanations, the public remains unsatisfied, drawing comparisons to the capture of high-profile criminals like terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was apprehended alive despite opening fire on policemen. In contrast, the leopard did not harm any humans, though it exhibited defensive behavior during the capture attempt. Many believe alternative non-lethal methods should have been considered.

The Chief Minister has called for an investigation into those who authorized the use of lethal force. Concerns have also been raised about the leopard's prolonged hunger, as it hadn't eaten for several days before the operation. This raises questions about whether alternatives, such as sedation and proper training for forest personnel, were adequately explored.

Bengaluru: Leopard escapes after being shot with anaesthesia, search operation persists

A retired forest department officer stressed the need for better training, highlighting the lack of practical skills among many officers in handling such situations. Conservation and protection of forests and wildlife are top priorities, and the indiscriminate use of firearms is seen as detrimental to these goals.

The public has criticized the Karnataka Forest Department for shooting the leopard without considering an alternative. They are also questioning the Forest Department for its recent stance in the Tiger Pendant Row, where they had preached wildlife conservation and now they have shot the leopard. 

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