Two women were mauled to death by leopards in separate incidents in Gujarat’s Junagadh district on Monday. The two incidents took place around 36 km apart and in less than 12 hours. Forest officers said efforts were on to trace the leopards and ascertain what prompted them to attack the women.
The first incident was reported from Mendarda taluka of Junagadh, which falls under the west division of Gir forest. Police said the victim, Mukta Kanani (55), a manual labourer, was attacked while she was asleep in her hut on the western bank of river Madhuvanti in Mendarda town. “Mukta was asleep along with her son Arjun and daughter. When Arjun woke up at 2 am, he did not find his mother beside him and alerted his cousin brother and uncle following which they launched a search. They found Kanani lying in a ditch on the bank of the river around two kilometres away from their hut,” Assistant Sub-Inspector of Mendarda, Hussain Multani, said.
Multani said the victim was found with parts of her body eaten. “The family members said they saw a leopard escaping from the spot where Kanani’s body was found during the search,” he said. Pradeep Singh, deputy conservator of forests, Gir (west), confirmed that the attack was carried out by a leopard after their staff noticed pug marks of the animal near the woman’s body. “Our staff found pug marks of a leopard near the place where the woman was found dead. We have laid out traps and efforts are on rescue the leopard,” he said, adding, compensation would be paid to the family of the victim.
The second incident was reported from Jangar village in neighbouring Maliya taluka of Junagadh. Forest officers said Rajiben Aerda (70) was attacked when she went out of her home to answer nature’s call at 5 am. “When rest of her family members woke after some time, they did not find her. After a brief search, her body was found in a nearby agricultural field,” said Kishor Gandhi, deputy conservator of forests (DCF) of Gir Somanth.
However, Gandhi said they were yet to get Aerda’s post-mortem report. “Prima facie she was killed by a wild animal, most probably a leopard,” he said. Officials said the victim belonged to a farmer’s family and the incident took place 10 km away from Babariya Vidi forest, where leopards have been frequently sighted. “Our staff are trying to locate the animal. We have also laid out traps to catch it,” Gandhi said.