Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Villagers hunt rare species of leopard

Villagers hunt rare species of leopard


Staff Correspondent


Villagers hunted a leopard of rare species (pantherar pardus) at Chakaria upazila in Cox's Bazar on March 7 night.

A forest official said a local union parishad chairman incited the villagers to kill the leopard, which is now on the verge of extinction.



"No such act of human insensibility on wildlife without any reason did take place in the last few decades since independence," said divisional forest officer Dr Tapan Kumar Dey, also project director of Dulahazra Safari Park.


He said they might seek government permission to sue the chairman for his act.


The leopard, seven-foot long, 2.5 feet height and weighing 60 kgs, fell victim to the attack of villagers when it emerged a shrimp enclosure at Pashchim (west) Baro Bheola village under Chakaria upazila from the neighbouring forest on March 7 night.



As news of the leopard's appearance spread hundreds of villagers had encircled the shrimp enclosure and beat it dead before the forest officials came the spot, sources said.



Local people said they were forced to kill the leopard as it attacked two workers of the shrimp enclosure.


Later, Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation (WMNC) Department officials with the help of police recovered the slain leopard and conserved it in the Natural History Museum of the Safari Park at Dulahazara, sources said.



Dr Tapan said three, out of ten species of tigers, leopards and cats are extinct in the country in the last three decades. The rest seven species are also critically endangered in the country.


"The leopard killed by the marauding villagers belonged to one of the extinct species. This species are now found only in a very few hilly and impenetrable forests of Sylhet, Garopahar in Mymensingh, Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts," he said.



Wildlife expert Prof Quazi Zakir Hossain and Bangladesh Wildlife Trust Executive Secretary Dr Anwarul Islam expressed shock at the killing of this rare leopard. They urged all to inform the authorities concerned immediately if any such wild animal, particularly those of extinct species, appeared in any locality.




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