Two cow carcasses found within the campus premises of Sri Venkateswara University (SVU) campus in Tirupati on Sunday set off alarm bells among the students and staff. The animals were suspected to have been killed by a leopard which is reportedly still present on the university campus.
Forest Department authorities, who were informed about the incident, immediately swung into action. Examining the bite marks and footprints on the cows, the officials confirmed that a leopard had killed the cows.
The incident came to light after the carcasses of a cow and a calf was spotted by those going for morning walks. The carcasses were found by an arterial road on the campus, adjacent to the Department of English and Department of Psychology.
The cows were killed late on Saturday, hours after the Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu visited the university for a function.
The reports of a leopard on the prowl have caused panic among those residing on campus, as nobody was sure of the location of the animal.
The SVU campus is spread across around 1,000 acres and is located close to the Sesachalam forest which is home to many leopards.
Speaking to local reporters, the security in-charge of the university said, "We got a call early in the morning about the bodies of the two cows. We saw what happened and notified the forest department. We had a similar incident a few years ago, where a dog was attacked by a leopard. At that time, the forest department had taken some steps like fencing certain areas, after which the leopards didn't enter. It has come back now."
Avula Damodaram, the Vice Chancellor of the University, shared that this had happened three years ago, and certain measures were taken then.
"In 2015, when I first took charge, there was a lot of wild plant growth near the administrative building and some parts of the campus. We had made sure that all such things were removed to a certain extent so that we could spot any animal coming from far away and hide if necessary," he said, speaking to TV9.
Avula said that the University will write to the state government requesting them for security measures to prevent this from happening again in the future.
"Not only the students, even I'm in fear as it is a question of human life. The life of our students and employees is important to us," said Avula.
The university has installed lights across the campus and has, in recent times, observed deer and other herbivorous animals frequenting the campus.
"As of now, our priority is the safety of our students and employees. We already have taken steps to ensure that dangerous animals don't enter the university, but we will now take more precautions. My request from the state government, including forest department and Chittoor district officials, is that they must help us in finding a permanent solution. I will also bring this incident to the CM's notice. We need a solution because there are other institutes and people living all around in this area and their lives may be in danger as well," he added.
Forest department officials will be laying out traps across the campus to try to catch the leopard and release it into the wilderness.