WB: Closed tea gardens turn into leopard habitat

According to sources in the state’s Forest Department, at least 10 cases of leopard attacks have taken place in the tea garden areas in the last couple of years.

Several closed tea gardens of north Bengal have been witnessing increasing attacks by leopards for the last couple of years.

According to sources in the state’s Forest Department, at least 10 cases of leopard attacks have taken place in the tea garden areas in the last couple of years.

According to experts, the closed tea gardens, mainly located in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts, make an ideal habitat for leopards, which prefer living in shrubs and bushes instead of dense forests.

They also said that since there are colonies of workers in these closed tea gardens, the leopards get easy prey such as chickens, cows and stray dogs.

“These closed tea gardens are also ideal breeding grounds for leopards. They get enough concealed space to raise their young and don’t have to face competition from other predators in forests,” Kanalilal Ghosh, director of West Bengal Forest and Biodiversity Conservation Project told DH.

He also said that attacks by the leopards on humans take place mostly when the animals are cornered and feel threatened. “But leopards often tend to attack small children,” said Ghosh. Experts argued that due to a lack of maintenance, these closed tea gardens such as Garaganda, Dumchipara, Ramjhora in Jalpiguri district and Tulsipara have resulted in shrubs covering the areas.

The close proximity of these tea gardens to the Jaldapara National Park in Alipurduar and Titi forest in Jalpaiguri have also made them suitable habitats for leopards.

Noted social activist and senior member of the Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity, Anuradha Talwar, argued that lack of maintenance of forests results in such attacks. She further alleged that often there is an inordinate delay in proving government compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of those who die in animal attacks.

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