Monday, October 16, 2006

India: Leopard believed to be man-eater killed

Shimla, Oct 16 (IANS) Hunters in Himachal Pradesh shot dead a leopard that villagers claim had killed one person and mauled many in the past three months.

With the help of sniffer dogs a group of seven hunters engaged by the state wildlife department chased the elusive big cat into a forest and shot it dead near Hamirpur, some 160 km from here.

"After a five-hour chase we managed to hunt down the animal Sunday," said Sanjoy Sood, a senior wildlife official.

The leopard is said to have terrorised villagers in the region by killing a three-year-old girl and injuring several children and eight old people in the region.

But the forest officials are not certain whether the slain leopard was the man-eater. Even though leopards are found in large numbers across the hill state, they rarely attack human beings.

Their habitat has been shrinking in recent years due to large-scale encroachment of forestland by villagers.

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