Leopard snatches 3-year-old girl from mother’s arms in Bengal tea garden, body found 3 km away
A leopard killed a three-year-old girl after snatching her from her mother in a tea garden in West Bengal’s Alipurduar district, officials said Wednesday. She was the third child killed by leopards in the area since December 12.
Pranita Oraon was taken away from the lap of her mother, Pooja, who was cooking outside their home in Garganda tea estate, where the woman works as a labourer. The leopard crossed a fence to enter their premises.
On Wednesday morning, Pranita’s body was found about three km away from her home in Birpara Police Station area of Alipurduar, 683 km from Kolkata.
“She (Pooja) was cooking in front of her house and the child was with her. As the leopard took away the kid, the mother ran after the animal and her shouting attracted other villagers,” said Sibu Chhetri, a local school teacher. He said Pooja’s husband has gone to Kerala in search of livelihood.
“The head and all four limbs were torn off from the body,” said a forest officer on conditions of anonymity.
Tension mounted at the tea estate as hundreds of locals prevented the authorities for hours from taking away the body of the child whose head was separated from her body.
“The forest department officials eventually assured the Oraons of a job following which the villagers allowed the body parts to be lifted,” said Bulu Lama, a local resident around midday.
In December, two boys aged 6 and 12 years were killed by leopards in Ramjhora and Dhumchipara tea gardens in Alipurduar.
Chhetri said that people have stopped venturing out of their homes after dark.
Referring to the leopard snatching the child from her mother’s lap, Ujjawal Ghosh, chief conservator of forest, wildlife (North) said,“I have never heard of such an incident in northern parts of Bengal. Government officials are negotiating with the agitating villagers to take away the body.”
He said the leopard population is increasing fast in the area.
The gardens that belonged to the Duncan Group has been closed for years and have been overrun by bushes making the area a safe haven for leopards.
Incidentally, in Garganda tea estate, two leopards were also killed in the area by villagers in December.
The agitating villagers alleged that the officials of the forest department were not sensitive to the attacks of the leopards in the villages.
It is estimated that more than 4,000 leopards inhabit the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar that is dotted with 283 tea gardens and large swathes of forest, national parks, wild life sanctuaries and tiger reserve.
In December, an old man was also injured by a leopard at Ramjhora tea estate.
On July 10, 2018. a 50-year-old woman was killed by leopard at Betguri Tea Garden’s Factory Line under Malbazar police station.
Leopard attacks are also regularly reported from Lankapara, Tulsipara, Gangenda, Dhumchipara and Ramjhora tea estates in north Bengal.