Sunday, July 15, 2007

Indian officials pay ransom for leopard held captive

Express News Service

Kolkata, July 13: The forest officials of Wildlife Division in North Bengal were called in for a mission of a different kind. They had to rescue a leopard who had fallen into a trap laid by tea garden workers and had to cough up a compensation to rescue the creature.

Three days ago, the leopard had mauled a six-year-old girl, Priyanka Kujur, at the Betguri tea estate in Malbazar sub-division of Jalpaiguri district. This had prompted the villagers to devise a way to capture the predator. The leopard finally fell into the trap last night.

On being informed about the catch, the forest department arrived to rescue the animal. But the officials were gheraoed by a mob of labourers from the tea garden who refused to let go off the animal. They claimed that it was a man-eater and demanded a compensation of Rs 50,000 for the family of Kujur.

The forest authorities refused to give in and after intense argument decided on a bargain of Rs 25,000 as compensation. "They took away the leopard at around 2.30 pm today after paying a compensation of Rs 25,000," said an official of the local Mal police station.

Leopards have been straying almost regularly in North Bengal as the animals tend to choose the tea gardens for preying and littering. "But the growing man-animal conflict in the region has become a matter of serious concern," said Animesh Bose, project coordinator, Himalayan Nature and Adventure Foundation (HNAF).

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=245855

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