THE man-animal conflict in Chandrapur district is slipping out of control. A woman was killed Thursday barely 100 metres from where forest officials were standing,near Kitali village in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve buffer zone,taking the toll in tiger,leopard and wild boar attacks in Vidarbha this month to eight.
Gopika Kalsarpe,aged around 50,was mauled to death by a leopard,believed to be the same animal involved in all previous attacks,as she walked towards her field brushing aside warnings by the forest staff not to go alone. She also declined an offer by the staff to be transported to the field in a government vehicle,sources said.
The staff heard her shrieks and rushed to help,but the animal stood its ground. The leopard left the woman and ran away only after the staff hurled stones at it. The woman was then rushed to hospital,where she was declared brought dead.
The attack happened just across the Irai river that separates Kitali from Payali,where the leopard had killed a girl Wednesday.
The animal was later found hiding in a pipe near the village. A mob gathered around the pipe but the leopard slipped away. The mob then turned its ire on the forest officials,who also ran away.
The villagers later staged a rasta roko and set fire to the forest. Till late in the afternoon,the fire had not been doused. Sources said the forest officials,who have been claiming the attacks are by different animals,were now inclined to believe activists who have been holding a single problem animal responsible. But no official could be reached for response.