Amreli (Gujarat), Dec 11 : A suspected ‘man-eater’ leopard was shot dead on Wednesday evening by forest department personnel near Bagasara village in Amreli district of Gujarat, officials said.
A senior official claimed the big cat had killed at least ten people in the nearby areas and 14 to 15 people in the entire region.
The big cat was lurking behind eucalyptus plantation near a cow shed when it was shot dead by a member of the team of forest guards, they said.
The Amreli region had seen a sharp rise in attacks by leopards in the last few months.
“We shot dead the leopard near Bagasara village at 7 pm on Wednesday. We were hunting for it as it had turned into a man-eater. We are sure that it was the same leopard we were looking for. Other leopards were rescued and shifted out of the area,” said Conservator of Forest (Rajkot), Ashwin Parmar.
Amreli district collector Aayush Oak said the leopard was spotted in a camera trap. “It was a seven-year-old male leopard,” he said.
Oak said the Forest department first tried to capture the big cat, but it attacked the personnel, following which it was shot dead.
“Forest department will analyse the pug marks to ascertain involvement of the killed leopard in recent human deaths. But it is certainly suspected to have killed human beings. If required, the forest department will continue its operation,” he said when asked whether the forest personnel killed the same leopard they were looking for.
Meanwhile, Parmar said a huge team of forest personnel was deployed to either trap or kill the leopard in view of deaths of many people in feline attacks in the region.
“We scanned CCTV footage videos as well as pug marks to ensure that we shoot down the man-eater. We will also get an independent analysis done to find remains of human beings, if any, from the intestine and stomach of the dead leopard,” he said.
Parmar said the leopard had killed at least 10 people in nearby areas. “In all, it might have killed 14-15 people in the entire region,” he added.
In its bid to identify the “man-eater leopard”, the Forest department had formed a team of 150 trained personnel and set up 30 cages at different locations to trap and rescue other leopards from the area.
At least 40 leopards have already been caged in Amreli and neighbouring Junagadh districts.
The state government had told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday that the total 14 people were killed while 71 others were injured in as many as 80 attacks by leopards in Junagadh and Amreli districts during the last two years, a significant rise than the previous year.
Recently, two persons were killed in a leopard attack on October 25 and December 5 in Munjiyasar village in Bagasara taluka of Amreli district.
A child was mauled to death by the big cat in Rafala village on November 17 while a 60-year-old man was killed in Visavadar taluka in the same district in September.