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Uttarakhand mob burns alive leopard caught by forest officials, 150 villagers booked

It is not clear whether the leopard was the same as the one involved in a fatal attack on a woman on May 15, after which the forest department had installed cages to catch the animal.

In 2011 a similar incident was reported when an angry mob in Dhamdhar village of the district burnt alive a leopard in front of forest and police officials. A case registered over the killing of the animal was later withdrawn.

A seven-year-old male leopard captured by the Uttarakhand forest department was burnt alive by an angry mob in a village in Pauri Garhwal district in the presence of department officials on Tuesday.

According to officials, the locals were agitated over the death of a woman who was mauled by a leopard earlier this month. It is, however, not clear whether the leopard killed was the same as the one involved in the fatal attack on the woman. A first information report was registered against the local village pradhan and 149 others under the Wildlife Protection Act and other relevant laws.

Talking to The Indian Express, district forest officer Mukesh Sharma said the woman, identified as 47-year-old Sushma Devi, was killed by a leopard in Saplodi village in the district on May 15, following which forest officials placed cages at two different locations in the area to catch the animal.

“On Tuesday morning around 5.20am, we got information that a leopard was caught in one of the cages. The forest department officials rushed to the spot. There they talked to the locals, but an angry mob led by the local village pradhan attacked the cage. They poured petrol and threw dry grass on the animal and set him on fire. The forest department officials tried to stop them but the mob of Saplodi and three-four neighbouring villages was just too overwhelming for them,” said Sharma.

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“After the incident, we sent the leopard’s body for a postmortem. We also got an FIR registered against the villagers who took the law into their hands. The animal killed is a seven-year-old male leopard. We could not confirm if it was the same leopard that killed the woman. We are also investigating why the villagers attacked the leopard,” he said.

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In 2011 a similar incident was reported when an angry mob in Dhamdhar village of the district burnt alive a leopard in front of forest and police officials. A case registered over the killing of the animal was later withdrawn.

In several cases, the forest department calls hunters to kill leopards when they turn into man-eaters. In 2020, hunters engaged by the department shot dead a leopard in Almora district after it killed two people. Earlier this year, a leopard that killed a boy in Tehri was shot dead by hunters hired by the department.

As per a rough estimate, close to a dozen people have died in leopard attacks in the state this year.

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