Bhopal, April 17 | The “corona lockdown” has caused a major paradigm shift in the wilds of Madhya Pradesh.
Wild animals have killed at least 13 persons, including women and minors, in adjoining villages during the past three weeks. Seldom in the past have wild animals killed so many people in such a short span of time.
On Friday morning, a leopard mauled a nine-year-old tribal girl to death when she went to collect Mahua flowers in the Sanjay Tiger Reserve in Sidhi district.
Villagers around the tiger reserve pick Mahua flowers and fruits and sell them to liquor brewers to eke out a living. The girl who had gone into the forest along with others was found dead while the leopard disappeared into the forest on hearing the villagers’ noise, said inspector in charge of the post near the sanctuary.
Post-corona weeks have seen unusual activity in the forests with tigers and other beasts venturing out of their territory and killing more than a dozen people.
The victims had obviously paid no heed to the government order to stay “indoors” and avoid contracting coronavirus.
The silence in the adjoining urban areas has given a mistaken sense of “expanded territory” to the marauding animals. They venture out of their fiefdom misled by pervading silence since the lockdown, a forest official said.
With roads and highways deserted, two groups of wild elephants from Chhattisgarh trooped into Madhya Pradesh and killed four persons — three in Anuppur and one in Seoni, in the last couple days.
The herd of tuskers that wreaked havoc in Anuppur was chased back to Chhattisgarh.
The other two have also been driven away from Seoni to Chhattisgarh, said the official.
While elephants from Chhattisgarh killed four persons, a tiger, a bear, a leopard and a wild boar have mauled eight others to death.
The forest official attributed the heightened activity to the sudden silence in and around the wildlife sanctuaries.
“Earlier, the wild animals did not venture beyond their territory due to human presence. They knew the line that was not to be crossed. But with no or dismal human presence around, the animals are making lateral movements.
“We are asking people living in the thickets to play music loudly on their mobile phones or create noise to shoo away the wild animals if around,” he added.
The wild animals which would melt away in jungles on hearing the noise are now venturing out of their territories across India, senior forest officials said.
On Wednesday, a tiger had killed an 18-year-old girl in Pench Tiger Reserve in Seoni district while she was picking up Mahua flowers used for several purposes, mainly for making liquor in the tribal dominated areas.