Panic prevailed in forest villages surrounding the famous Tadoba tiger reserves in the eastern Maharashtra district of Chandrapur when a leopard mauled and killed a 50-year old woman on Thursday morning.
The state forest headquarters in Nagpur informed that the incident occurred in a forest area near Kitali village, bordering Tadoba national park. The victim, Gopika Kalsapre (50) went to the jungle for the collection of mahua flowers when a leopard attacked her and killed instantly.
On Wednesday, a leopard killed a 12-year girl near Paili village in the district when she went to the jungle for collection of Mahua flowers early in the morning. This is the eighth such incident in the periphery of Tadoba tiger reserves in last one month when big cats stalked villagers and killed them. On April 12, a leopard had killed a girl and critically injured her mother in Chorgaon forest in the district.
Thursday's incident occurred just 10kms from Paili where the 12-year old girl was killed by a leopard on Wednesday morning. The incident led to tension in the village. An enraged mob even manhandled a forest personnel after a team from Chandrapur forest division arrived at the spot.
According to reports reaching here this evening, a group of villagers went to the jungle when Gopika did not return till 10.00am. When the villagers went to the forest area they found her dead in a thicket and a big cat was sitting next to the body. They hurled stones and sticks at the wild animal to drive it away. The big cat fled from there leaving the body behind, the reports said.
BSK Reddy, the chief conservator of forests (CCF), Chandrapur circle described the repeated such incidents as unfortunate. "We have instructed all nearby villagers to go to jungle with group. Moreover, they should avoid going there in early morning or in the evening," he further said.
Kishore Rithe, member of National Board for Wildlife demanded a total ban on collection of mahua flowers, tendu leaf and other minor forest produces in the buffer zone and nearby forests of Tadoba tiger reserves in view of such repeated incidents. "These villagers should be given an alternative avenue to compensate the collection of minor forest produces," he insisted.