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The maneating leopard, which landed Water Resources Minister Girish Mahajan in a controversy recently after he was seen with a pistol while accompanying officials in search of the animal, claimed its seventh victim on Wednesday.
The latest victim is seven-year-old Kunal Prakash Ahire of Sakur village in Malegaon taluka, adjoining Chalisgaon taluka where the leopard has claimed most of its victims. Ahire had stepped out of his hut at night to answer nature’s call when he was attacked by the leopard and dragged into a nearby sugarcane field. His body was found after 90 minutes in a farm after villagers armed with axes launched a hunt for the leopard.
The maneater had attacked a woman in Manjiri village in Chalisgaon the same afternoon. The woman, however, escaped with scratches on her neck and hands.
The forest department has, meanwhile, deployed nearly 120 staff to trap the leopard. A shoot-to-kill order has also been issued by the government and marksmen from across the country brought to Jalgaon district.
Forest officials have erected 10 watchtowers in areas where the leopard has been previously sighted to monitor its movements and trap him. The leopard started killing people in July. Since November 11, the animal has killed five people.
Last month, Opposition parties in Maharashtra had demanded the resignation of Mahajan after a video was circulated in which the minister is seen with a drawn pistol while accompanying officials in search of the maneating leopard in Chalisgaon.