Updated: June 8, 2020 12:08:50 am
A leopard was lynched, its teeth removed, and subsequently paraded by a group of people in the Katahbari Pahar area of Guwahati on Sunday morning, officials said. “It was an 8-year-old male leopard which had been initially caught with a rope trap by the locals,” said Rajib Baruah, DFO, Kamrup East Division, adding that the Katahbari Pahar area fell under the Fatasil Reserve Forest of Guwahati.
In an alleged video clip of the incident, now circulating on social media, three-four men can be seen parading the carcass of the animal to the hoots and cheers by the surrounding crowd. Six people have been arrested so far — including one minor — in connection to the incident. “Since the animal’s teeth were also removed, they will also be charged with a case of poaching,” said Baruah. Another juvenile has been apprehended by the authorities.
The post mortem report is awaited. “What we know so far is that it was an old and weak leopard who had not eaten for days,” he said, “It had probably come seeking refuge — however, the locals did not understand that and attacked.”
The forest department officials were alerted about the leopard being trapped early Sunday morning. “We got a call at 5 am that a leopard had been trapped. When our department officials got there, we saw that the leopard tied with a thin rope around its leg and was asleep on someone’s porch,” said Baruah, “By the time, the zoo authorities reached to rescue it, the leopard escaped.”
The locals, however, followed the leopard into the forest and by about 10 am, the forest department was informed that the leopard had been killed. “The leopard had not disturbed anyone nor had he damaged anything. So there was really no provocation of attack,” said Baruah.
Katahbari Pahar falls under the Fatasil Reserve Forest of Guwahati — which is one among the many notified Reserve Forests (Fatasil, Jaukbari, Kalaphar, Gorbhanga etc) which the city shares its boundary with.
“The area where the incident took places is well within the Reserve Forest. So, the leopard did not do anything wrong. In fact, it was in its rightful home,” said Hemkanta Talukdar, Chief Conservator of Forest, Central Assam Circle, adding that a number of hillocks surrounding Guwahati are natural habitats for leopards
“This area has a number of land encroachments,” said Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) Wildlife TV Reddy, adding that the culprits will prosecuted at the earliest.
A preliminary FIR has been launched at the Garchuk Police Station. “We are waiting for more details from the post mortem to file a more detailed FIR as well as a case for violating the Wildlife Protection Act (1972),” said Talukdar, adding that the area of Fatasil RF is 670.44 hectares
Rampant development and the jostle for space between human beings and wildlife have led to increased man-animal conflict in Assam. Earlier in March, a full-grown leopard was run over by a vehicle in Guwahati’s AT Road near Kamakhya temple. This year alone, there have been at least four cases of leopards being killed by locals in the Upper Assam districts of Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Golaghat.
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