Two days after a leopard mauled to death an eight-year-old boy in Tulsipur block of Uttar Pradesh’s Balrampur district, the third such incident in the area within 10 days, the state Forest Department on Friday started the process to declare the animal as a “man-eater”.
On Wednesday evening, the leopard killed the eight-year-old, identified as Vikas, when he had gone to a nearby sugarcane field to answer nature’s call at Belwa village.
On November 5, a three-year-old girl, Nandini, was killed by the same feline at Lalnagar Sipahia village. Her body was found a few days later. On November 11, six-year-old Arun from the same village was killed by the animal.
Balrampur Sub-divisional Forest Officer Manoj Kumar said, “A letter has been sent to the Chief Wildlife Warden with the recommendation to declare the animal man-eater as it claimed three lives in the last 10 days.”
Multiple forest teams have intensified patrolling in the area, and trap cameras and cages have been put up at strategic locations to catch the feline.
The forest officials are trying to tranquilise the animal and have sought the help of veteran shooters.
Balrampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Semmaran said, “We are making all efforts to catch the animal. Its pug marks indicate that it is adult.”
The forest officials suspect that the animal entered the human habitat through the Sohelwa wildlife forest division located at the Indo-Nepal border, which is nearly 20 kilometres from the two villages where the three incidents took place.
The forest division is spread across the Gonda, Balrampur, and Shravasti districts.
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Since the animal is moving through sugarcane fields, it is becoming difficult to track it, the DFO said.
Meanwhile, panic gripped the area following the killings of children by the feline.
The DFO said they were creating awareness by explaining to villagers how to keep themselves safe. Pamphlets were being distributed and voice messages are being sent through panchayat representatives, he added.