Leopard kills man in Rajaji, 20th such incident in 4 years

Half eaten body of a 56-year-old man was found in Raiwala area of Motichur range in Rajaji Tiger Reserve on Tuesday evening

dehradun Updated: Jul 10, 2018 21:37 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
The conflict spot is adjoining the national highway that connects Dehradun with Haridwar.(HT File Photo)

Half eaten body of a 56-year-old man was found in Raiwala area of Motichur range in Rajaji Tiger Reserve on Tuesday evening. For the past four years, 20 people have been killed in the area by leopards.

Spread across 10 sqkm area from Nepali Farm House till Motichur range, the area has become a death trap of people. The conflict spot is adjoining the national highway that connects Dehradun with Haridwar.

Reserve officials claim that the man identified as Surat Singh Negi was wandering in the area for the past 2 days. Even the forest staff asked him to move out of the forest, but he didn’t.

“His brothers told me that he was mentally disturbed and had issues in hearing and speech. The staff tried to warn him but he remained in the conflict area,” said Sanatan Sonkar, director of Rajaji.

Parts of his body were found scattered in the area. The man-eater leopard tore his body and ate his parts including neck, shoulders and lower abdomen.

Since 2014 when these killings began, the reserve management moved 8 leopards from the location.

Despite sanitising the area, the officers claim there are four more leopards prowling that could be dangerous.

“We tried tranquilising a leopard but it disappeared in the bushes. Due to monsoon, the bushes have become thick making it difficult to monitor the patch,” Sonkar said.

Of 8 leopards recued, 2 were kept in the Chidiapur rescue centre.

Sonkar said the leopards had traces of human flesh in their scat and mouth because of which they were deemed dangerous. The remaining leopards were freed in other parts of the reserve.

Significantly, the staff claimed that isolated persons mostly sadhus and drunkards have become prey to big cats. “The locals know the sensitivity of the area and so, mostly sadhus and drunkards enter this area and end up falling prey to the leopards,” he added.

The incident has irated the locals. “It’s so dangerous to live here,” said Sankalp Rawat, a local of Raiwala.

The women and children are particularly at risk. “We have asked women and children to not venture outside home after 6 pm,” said Ramesh Singh, another local.

Some claimed that Surat had gone to graze his cattle. “The forest isn’t a place for grazing, if at all people are claiming this,” Sonkar said.

First Published: Jul 10, 2018 21:37 IST