|Forest staff with the leopard carcass in Jorhat on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Jorhat, May 11: In another case of man-animal conflict in Assam, villagers killed an adult leopard this morning on the eastern outskirts of Jorhat. The nails and a few teeth were also found missing from the carcass by the forest department.
Forest department sources said the incident took place at Duliagaon in the Kakajan area under the Jorhat range of Jorhat forest division.
According to the sources, a group of six persons from Duliagaon had gone inside a forest nearby around 10.30am to collect firewood for a marriage party later today.
As the group was collecting pieces of wood, a leopard suddenly appeared and charged towards them. Sources said to “save their lives”, the villagers attacked the big cat with machetes and sticks they had brought with them and killed it instantly.
Deputy ranger (Jorhat range), Noren Baruah, who led the forest team to the site, told this correspondent that the leopard was dead by the time they reached the spot.
Baruah said locals backed the version of events narrated by the group to the forest staff and they had attacked the animal in “self-defence”.
He said a few teeth and nails were found missing from the carcass, while its tail and legs were intact.
“Some miscreants may have cut the teeth and nails as there is a myth the animal parts have medicinal value,” the forest official said.
Baruah said an FIR has been lodged with police for an investigation alongside the probe being carried out by the forest department.
He said if any evidence was found that the leopard was killed without any provocation or threat, legal action would be initiated against those who deliberately killed the big cat. The official said the leopard was listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and killing the animal was a crime.
If a person is convicted for killing a leopard, he could be imprisoned for up to five years.
Baruah said the carcass was shifted to the veterinary hospital here for carrying out post-mortem and will be cremated according to department rules.
This year, over five leopards have been killed in the Upper Assam districts alone with the latest incident occurring in Tinsukia district last month.
Several incidents of leopard straying out to human habitations in recent times have added to the woes of the forest staff in Upper Assam, with one leopard having been tranquillised for treatment on April 24 near Mariani town in Jorhat district.
Over 15 leopards were killed in the state last year, with most of the incidents reported from Upper Assam.