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J&K: Multi-force hunt for killer leopard

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
January 16, 2007 11:46 IST
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A multi-force hunt for a man-eater leopard was launched in the foothills of the southern Pir Panjal Himalayan mountain range following lethal attacks on villagers, claiming three lives in less than a week.

The special teams comprising of police, security forces and wildlife officials arrived in Chattergul village in south Kashmir Anantnag district on Monday afternoon following repeated protests by villagers against the man-eater's attacks and the government's concern over it.

Besides these teams, two quick response teams have also been constituted, which will be utilised as and when news regarding the presence of any wild animal is received, a police spokesman in Srinagar said.

Kashmir Range Police Chief S M Sahai, visited Chattergul village on Monday and sought people's support for the government effort to trap the animal.

The Jammu and Kashmir government announced a cash reward of Rs 10,000 for definitive information about the wild cat.

The villagers have been holding protests against the government's inaction, and police had to baton charge protestors on Monday.

Minister of State for Power and Health Peer Mohammad Hussain has expressed deep concern over the mauling of an eight-year-old girl, Raeesa, by the man-eater.

"All the concerned agencies including wildlife, police, army, paramilitary forces and the Forest Protection Force have been directed to trap the animal immediately and ensure the safety and security of the general masses of the area," the minister said.

It may be mentioned here that angry villagers set ablaze a Black Himalayan bear after it attacked villagers in Tral, a south Kashmir town in November 2006.

The burning of the bear, videographed, by a local photographer and aired by a TV channel had led to widespread condemnation by animal rights activists.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar