A maneater that has been wreaking havoc on the outskirts of Moradabad division in Uttar Pradesh for the last two weeks reportedly hunted down its sixth human prey on Friday.
Forest department officials suspect the animal has strayed from Jim Corbett National Park in neighbour state Uttarakhand. While experts think a leopard is behind the killings, local residents believe a tiger is on the prowl.
Residents of Moradabad division comprising five districts — Rampur, Sambhal, Moradabad, Amroha, Bijnor — are terrified.
The forest department has formed a special team to catch the big cat and a shoot-at-sight order has been issued. Villagers in groups are also trying to track down the beast.
The animal reportedly made its first killing on December 25 in the Bahjoi area of Sambhal district, mauling a 65-year-old man.
“In the past few weeks, the animal has killed six persons in rural areas of Moradabad. Efforts are on to catch it,” said Kamlesh Kumar, the Moradabad division conservator of forest.
The last hunt was reported from a village in Bijnor district, where the beast killed a 20-year-old man on Friday. A source said forest officials of both UP and Uttarakhand have spotted pug marks of leopards in the region, but there were no tiger pug marks.
The UP forest department has reportedly hired three huntsmen to kill it. While one of them is from Nainital (Uttarakhand), the others are from Bijnor and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh). The Hyderabad hunter has reportedly not arrived.
BIG CAT’S KILLING SPREE
December 25: A 65-year-old man killed in Sambhal district
December 29: Farmer killed and another injured in Mithanpur village in Sambhal district
January 5: Farmer falls prey in Changeri village of Moradabad
January 7: A 15-year-old girl killed in Chendari Akbar village in Moradabad district