‘Leopards are still found in the forests of Siliguri, Bidhannagar, and Jalpaiguri in India adjacent to the Panchagarh border’
Thousands of locals in Panchagarh are passing sleepless nights as multiple tigers have reportedly entered the locality from bordering India and are roaming free in the area.
Villagers have limited their movements outside and are keeping a watch for tigers every night fearing an attack on their homes.
Meanwhile, a local villager claims that tigers have killed one of his cows.
“One of my cows was killed by tigers on Wednesday. I went looking for the beasts and I spotted the big cats in the dense tea gardens. When I screamed for help, other villagers came to my aid and saw the tigers themselves,” said Abul Kalam Azad, a resident of Ushapara village.
Residents of Muhorijot, Sahebijat, Ushapara, and Badiagaz villages under Satmera and Devnagar unions in Sadar and Tetulia upazila are similarly under constant fear since they spotted one adult tiger and two cubs in their localities a month ago.
On a visit, this correspondent learned there have been reports of leopard sightings after members of the Indian Border Security Force had informed Bangladesh Border Guard that a leopard with two cubs had entered Bangladesh from the Indian side of the border.
Villagers have been on high alert ever since and were seen guarding their homes with bamboo sticks at night. Locals are visiting the local markets in groups to avoid tiger attacks.
“There are dense bushes and old tea gardens in our village where the tigers could be hiding out. We cannot move freely in fear of tiger attacks. No one goes out after sundown,” said Rubel Rana, a resident of Muhijat village.
“We are passing sleepless nights ever since tigers entered our locality. We requested the authorities to catch or chase away the tigers,” said another local Hazibuddin.
The District administration along with the Forest Department is trying to catch the tigers alive and have urged the locals to be cautious and not to kill these animals.
As of Friday, the authorities began clearing out thick bushes and tea gardens in Muhorijot and Sahebijat villages under Sadar upazila in search of the tiger and her two cubs.
Panchagarh Forest Ranger Abdul High said: “Under the order of the chief conservator of forests (CCF), a four-member team including a veterinary surgeon has come here from Dhaka. They are trying to catch the tigers alive with the help of local forest officials."
Panchagarh Sadar Upazila Nirbahai Officer Md Arif Hossain said: “It can be confirmed that tigers entered the localities after locals spotted tigers and discovered their pugmarks. We talked to the owner of the cow that was killed by tigers. The deputy commissioner is monitoring the situation closely. Besides, the district administration with the help of forest officials is trying to catch the tigers so that they cannot harm the villagers.”
Meanwhile, Abdur Rahman, divisional forest officer of Dinajpur, said: “We are trying to find out the exact location of the tigers. We are straining every nerve to catch the tigers alive.”
Contacted regarding the Indian leopard, Zohra Mila, wildlife and biodiversity conservation officer of the Forest Department, said: “Leopards are still found in the forests of Siliguri, Bidhannagar, and Jalpaiguri in India adjacent to the Panchagarh border. So, this tiger could have easily entered Bangladesh for any number of reasons.”