Tirupati: Forest officials suspect that a leopard could be on the prowl in the area after they found a dead deer in the Srivari Mettu area which caused panic among the devotees. Now, the TTD forest wing is not allowing devotees through the area to prevent possible attacks.
There have been regular complaints from the people who travel via Ghat road and the devotees who travel by foot about wild animal attacks. But the forest officials say that big cats normally don’t attack people moving on vehicles and argue that there are chances they might attack humans who are on foot.
When an issue escalates, the forest, vigilance, fire, police, and wildlife departments are pressed into service to prevent movement of devotees in the suspected areas. They also arrange special teams to thwart such instances. Officials from the SV Zoological Park at Tirupati are also roped in to monitor the preventive measures and guide the rescue teams.
There have been instances when people have spotted big cats on the Tirumala hill and escaped unhurt. While some devotees were hurt by leopards earlier, fortunately, there were no fatalities. Normally, pilgrims who prefer to travel by foot are vulnerable to attacks by the wild animals at some identified spots where they have to walk for about nine km from Alipiri to Tirumala.
Srivari Mettu, located in Chandragiri Mandal, is the shortest route to reach Tirumala, which is a three km-walk and includes climbing around 2,400 steps. The thick forest in this area makes it vulnerable to attacks by wild animals. Now, the rescue teams are monitoring the situation to support pilgrims. There is no official communication from the TTD authorities on Monday’s incident.