A girl (3) was mauled to death by a leopard at Khaneri village in Rampur, 140km from Shimla on Friday evening, said a police official on Saturday. He added that Riya was attacked by the leopard and dragged into a field while she was playing in the backyard around 8:30pm. The wildlife department has, meanwhile, started a search operation to hunt down the man-eater.
Principal chief conservator of forest (wildlife) JS Walia, in a press communiqué, said that a massive search operation was conducted throughout the night by the locals and staff of the forest department to discover the body. "After killing the girl, her body was half eaten by the leopard and the remains were traced about half a km away from the incident site in the morning hours," he said, adding, "Efforts are on to capture the leopard. A team of accredited hunters is also being appointed for the same."
He also said that interim relief of `25,000 had been paid to the aggrieved family and the department was keeping a strict vigil and monitoring the leopard movements in the area. "Trap cages have been set up at strategic locations in the sensitive areas. Taking recourse to the provisions made in the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, the chief wildlife warden, Himachal Pradesh, has declared the leopard as dangerous to human life," he said.
Further, people in the area are also advised to avoid walking alone in the night and not to leave their children alone in dark hours. "One can also play music on the mobile phone while walking at night so as to keep the big cat away," the forest official added.