Impossible, says the forest department, but people in Bangalore are convinced of a lurking beast
BANGALORE ~ A fortnight ago, residents near Bangalore’s showpiece infotech hub, International Tech Park Ltd in Whitefield, reported hearing strange growls. Two of them saw an animal and swore that its shape at dusk was larger than that of a stray dog. When they found heavy footprints on soft ground after a rainy night, they put all the evidence together, did a quick check on the internet and deducted that it was a leopard on the prowl. Except that the forest department says that this is simply impossible.
The fear around Whitefield’s Sai Residential Enclave sends people scurrying home by sunset. Children are not let out at night. When Samir T, a resident, took up the case of the leopard with the forest department, officials from the nearby Forest Training Institute visited the area and searched it extensively. But they found no evidence of a leopard. The city’s honorary wildlife warden, Sharath Babu, says the area is covered entirely by a concrete jungle. “There is no way a leopard could have penetrated this far in, as it has to first breach a ring of apartments, houses and factory blocks. None of them has reported any such sighting in the past months. In fact, there have been no leopards [seen on] this side of Bangalore for decades now,’’ says Babu.
Samir is not convinced. “We photographed different kinds of pug marks. We searched the net and tried to match it with that of wild animals. The only ones that came close were hyenas and leopards. And hyenas don’t growl,’’ he says.
Forest officials say unless there is enough proof, they cannot undertake trapping operations. Residents are now gathering it. On the morning of 10 December, along with some wildlife experts, they levelled some stretches, dumped layers of soft sand and watered it to capture fresh footprints. “We want to prove them wrong. I myself heard a low growl behind my compound last week. We are also trying to record the noises,’’ says Samir.▪