SRINAGAR: The wildlife department has unleashed seven teams of hunters on the man-eater leopard that killed two children in recent days in the border town of Uri, official sources said.
The total number of children killed in leopard attacks this season in the area has reached five. Two attacks were reported in the last two weeks.
In June 2022, three kids were killed by another leopard in the same belt. It was after hectic efforts by the wildlife-hired hunters that the animal was killed after a long chase.
On September 22 evening when a herder family was busy in the routine in upper Uri meadow, Danisayedian village, a leopard pounced upon their son Ali Hassan and took him away. He was barely seven years old. The family did chase the man-eater but failed to save the child. They, however, could only recover his dead body not far away from the spot of the attack.
This was the man-eater’s second attack. On September 16, the animal – possibly the same one, got into Gawhsar village and took away Munaza. She was only five years old. Her body was recovered late at night, the same day. The area is in the immediate neighbourhood of Lachipora Wildlife sanctuary.
Officials said they are aware of the crisis and have already issued instructions to the people living in the woods. They said they have been dissuading the herder families from taking their children with them to the meadows but the pleas have fallen on the deaf ears. Besides, they have been asked not to get deep into the food for getting fuel wood.
“We have constituted seven teams to kill the man-eater,” Noor Mohammad Baba, the Wildlife Warden (North) said. “It’s a very difficult task to chase a wild animal in a dense forest.”
Wildlife officials said the leopard population in the area seemingly has increased and that means the local population must be very cautious.
The series of killings by the leopards have created a virtual terror in the area. People have stopped sending their kids to school unescorted. The movement almost freezes in the evening. Part of the Uri population is nomadic as they go up the meadows with their herds for almost half of the year.
These people face a problem while attending to the call of nature. They essentially have to get out of their temporary ramshackle house, Kothas. In certain cases, the kids are attacked in this process. That is why the Chief WildLife warden, Rashid Naqaash has strictly asked the people in the area to not leave their kids unguarded during dawn and dusk.
“The children and women need to take extra measures,” an advisory issued by the Wildlife Department reads. “The children should be accompanied by elders and always move on a regular forest path and avoid shortcuts.”