Posted by: Joydip & Suchandra Kundu on
Apr 13, 2010
In a botched operation, a straying leopard was killed by police after foresters failed to tranquillize the animal at Shikaripara village in Banarhat on Sunday morning. The adult male animal had sneaked into the village, possibly from the nearby Khuttimari forest and taken shelter in a bamboo grove.
Even as thousands gathered around it for a closer look at the animal, the leopard charged at the onlookers, injuring 11, including a policeman. It was finally shot dead after around two hours during which foresters made an attempt to tranquillize the leopard, but failed.
Around 11.30 am, villagers noticed the animal bounding down a paddy field. Panic spread as the word got around and villagers soon cornered the animal. They laid a siege around the bush in the fringe of the village, in which the scared animal had taken shelter. Whenever it tried to come out, it was chased back. Eyewitnesses said some people even hurled bricks at the leopard and hit it with bamboo poles.
After about an hour, the leopard dashed out of the bush and charged at the onlookers, injuring 11. The forest department had been informed by then and a wildlife squad soon arrived from Binnaguri. The foresters took up position on a nearby tree and attempted to tranquillize the animal. But they apparently failed to get a clear view to fire the dart.
Meanwhile, the crowd swelled and the police found it difficult to keep them away from the animal. Around 1 pm, the leopard made a final rush for safety, sprinting desperately through the crowd. Even as villagers ran for cover, the leopard charged at Narayan Kumar Majumdar, inspector-in-charge of Banarhat police station. Even as it was about pounce on Majumdar, policemen standing next to him fired at it. The animal was killed on the spot.
“This is a very unfortunate incident, but we couldn’t avoid killing the leopard. It could have injured more people and even killed villagers had it not been shot,” said SP Anand Kumar. He added that of the five rounds that had been fired, two hit the animal.
Forest officials, on the other hand, blamed the villagers for the messed up operation. “The gathered there in huge numbers, making it impossible for us to get close to the leopard. We tried our best top tranquillize it, but the crowd could not be controlled,” said a forest official. An inquiry has been started.
Last year, a leopard had been beaten to death by villagers at Dhupguri, 10 km from Banarhat.