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Forest officers claim to have shot dead man-eater, doubt persists
The forest department officials claimed to have shot dead a man-eater leopard which had been prowling on the villages surrounding Motichur range of Rajaji National Park for long. It is learnt that in the small hours of Wednesday, the forest department team shot the leopard dead at Khand village in Raiwala area. The man-eater was suspected to have killed 21 people in the past three years. Three days ago, a shepherd was mauled by the leopard to death as he had ventured deep into the forest to graze cattle. However, it is still doubtful whether the feline killed on the suspicion of being a man-eater was behind the killing spree or not as there are at least two/three man-eater leopards being spotted prowling around the area.
According to sources, though the forest department team has captured five leopards in the past few years there are five to six leopards which, caught in the camera traps, are suspected to have become man- eaters.
Speaking to The Pioneer, director of Rajaji National Park Sanatan Sonkar said, “For the past three months, our team was working on tracing the man-eater leopard. On early Wednesday morning, a 13- member team along with Dr Prashant Singh succeeded in killing the female leopard, aged around 5 -7 years. The leopard gave us a tough time in the process of tranquilising and caging. Finally we had to shoot it down.”
When asked how the team could have decided that it was a man eater, Sonkar said, “Her front paw was cut and broken which gave us the clue that she was unable to hunt animal preys and found easy targets on humans.” The forest team would, however, keep on patrolling in the night hours and try to locate other leopards which are suspected to have turned man-eaters, he added.
Notably, in December last year, two full- grown leopards- one male and the other female- were captured by a team of the foresters in Danda beat of Motichur range of Rajaji Tiger Reserve. They were sent to Chidiyapur rescue centre after they were tranquilised and kept under the supervision of a team of doctors.
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