Leopard sightings and their subsequent attacks send alarm bells ringing in the minds of people, who then begin to look for ways to limit the big cats from straying away from their habitat.
But not this village in Pune.
For a while now, farmers in the Ranmala village of Pune district have been carefully observing the trend of leopards venturing into their villages.
While they were troubled with the attacks on their cattle, pets and even fellow villagers, they understood that these predators would not enter human territory unless they were desperate.
The farmers realised that one of the main reasons that brought the leopards into the villages was water. So, they hit upon an innovative solution!
In November this year, Baban Khadke, Genubhau Bhujbal and Rajaram Shinde, all farmers, decided to build and repair a total of three water tanks for the benefit of leopards.
Speaking to Mid-Day, Khadke said, “One tank was built 20 years back. We thought the solution to leopard attacks was to build a water facility for wild animals. The tanks are filled by water from our wells every two days.”
These cubical tanks that are 5-feet-deep and 5-feet-wide work like artificial wells where the water is let out in a wide basin-like structure for the leopards to drink from.
Since the tanks were placed away from human settlements and farms, it minimised the frequency of leopards entering the villages.
Nilesh Shinde, another farmer from the Pune village, went a step ahead and designed temporary, mobile water tanks for the wild animals.
Utilising iron barrels, he placed the artificial tanks in strategic locations for wild animals, and birds get easy access to water.
Speaking to Pune Mirror, he said, “I built six water ponds in the area to prevent the attacks. I slice the iron barrels into two halves to create the tanks. And this small gesture has been effective as since a month, barely one wild animal has entered the village. These tanks are filled every two days from our wells.”
While man-animal conflicts are widely reported and result in humans becoming even more wary of wild cats, farmers like Shinde and Khadke are showing that this need not be the case. Simple techniques like these have proved to be an effective way to keep them at bay, without actually limiting their freedom.
In fact, the village of Ranmala has once again showcased the effectiveness of uncomplicated ideas that can be very efficient and beneficial for the environment. Earlier this year, TBI had covered the story of how the residents of the village have started planting trees to mark births and deaths. Read the entire story here.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)