AsiaIndia'Man-eater' leopard still at large with villagers fearing for safety

‘Man-eater’ leopard still at large with villagers fearing for safety

The teams of wildlife officials and hunters have failed to track down the “man-eater” leopard that villagers believe is responsible for the killing of two young children in north Kashmir’s Uri area.

The local hunters and wildlife teams had been deployed in the area after the wildlife department got permission to trap or neutralise the wild animal.

Wildlife warden, Baramulla, Noor Mohammad Baba, confirmed that teams were deployed in the forests of Uri. “Since it’s a dense forest area, it’s not an easy task to track a leopard. We are working on it,” he said, adding that the animal will be trapped.

Besides, wildlife officials, a team of local hunters are also searching for the “man-eater” leopard.

So far this year, five young children have lost their lives in attacks by leopards. The officials said these attacks were the result of an increasing population of leopards in the forests of Uri, the loss of habitat and human interference. After the fresh attack, many nomads living in the upper areas of the Uri forests started moving towards plain areas. The villagers have also formed separate groups to keep vigil around their habitats in the forests.

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On September 22, the leopard attacked and killed a seven-year-old boy Ali Hassan of Danisayedian village in Uri. The family which was present in the upper meadow or bahek tried to chase the leopard but failed to save the child. Hours later after a hectic search the child’s body was recovered from deep in the forest area.

A week earlier, five-year-old Munaza was attacked and killed similarly by a leopard. The child was attacked near her temporary shelter at Gawhsar, which is close to Lachipora Wildlife sanctuary, home to several endangered species, including Markhour (a large goat).

Earlier in June, three children were killed in leopard attacks in Uri and later one man-eater leopard was also killed by expert hunters.

The villagers said that after back-to-back attacks people fear for their lives, especially young children who are being stopped from venturing out.

“The villagers are terrified because they know the wild animal can again attack their children again,” said Shabir Ahmad Khatana, who lives in Baripora. “Till the man-eater leopard isn’t captured or killed, the villagers will keep living in fear,” he added.

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