A leopard, alleged to have mauled seven people in Chalisgaon, near Nashik, was shot dead on Saturday night by a former hunter. While this gave politicians and locals a reason to cheer, wildlife experts and activists criticised the move to involve a marksman and raised doubts over whether the right animal had been shot.On Saturday, Hyderabad-based Nawab Shafath Ali Khan from the Wildlife Tranquil Force, shot the leopard at Varkhede village in Chailsgaon around 10 pm. In a surprising revelation, Khan, in a video said, even in the dark, he could sense the leopard would be a maneater, and so he shot it — a claim that has raised several eyebrows.Meanwhile, Unmesh Patil, the local BJP MLA from Chalisgaon, said Khan’s help was requested by the forest department after seeking special permission as the leopard had been wreaking havoc.”Forest department officials tried hard to trap it but in vain. This had been going on for the past two months, and in the process the leopard had killed seven people and injured another 20,” Patil said.Wildlife activists and experts aside, this move has also irked senior forest officials. Dr Anish Andheria, President, Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT), said that there is an urgent need for the forest department to tackle such situations scientifically and they need to equip themselves and not involve sport hunters to eliminate carnivores. Another photographer and conservationist claimed that it was a surprising move for the forest department that has so many trained vets and experts.NOT A SMART MOVEExperts believe the forest department needs to tackle such situations scientifically. A photographer and conservationist claimed that the forest department need not have depended on a hunter who does not have any knowledge of carnivore biology.
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