A leopard that mauled to death a seven-year-old girl near Bairkhal village in Pauri on Monday evening has been declared a man-eater. It is the second leopard kill in the area in a week.
The leopard grabbed in its jaws the girl who was walking back to the village holding her grandmother’s hands, and ran into the thick bushes. The father of the girl, identified as Santoshi, was also with them when the leopard pounced on them.
People from nearby Bairkhal village joined them to look for the child and found almost half-eaten body in the bushes late night.
Cattle and humans are an easy hunt for leopards facing dwindling prey base in forests. The state has one of the highest leopard population in the country at 2,335, and the big cats have already killed at least 14 people this year. There is no data available on the number of cattle killed.
A forest department that reached the spot on Tuesday morning faced the wrath of villagers who were shocked by the second kill. Jagmohan Singh, the village head, said that on November 15 a leopard lifted a four-year-old boy from the Van Gujjar, about 1 km, from the spot.
The villagers did not allow the body of Santoshi to be taken for post-mortem and insisted that the post-mortem be done at the spot itself. They also demanded that the leopard should be declared a man-eater and shot dead.
“The demands of the villagers have been acceded and soon a hunter would be deputed to kill the leopard,” said Nitish Mani Tripathi, the divisional forest officer (Lansdown forest division). Tripathi said the cages were being installed at strategic places.