A leopard was found dead in a village in Alipurduar district on Thursday morning and the forest department suspects the animal was beaten to death by local residents.
Forest department personnel seized the carcass at Dhulagaon in Jateswar 1 panchayat of Falakata. The foresters started a probe.
According to them, they got information around 8am on Thursday that the carcass of an adult female leopard had been found at Dhulagaon, which is close to the Khayerbari forest of the Jaldapara National Park.
The foresters examined the carcass and found external injuries. Blood was oozing from the dead animal’s mouth, said sources.
"During our preliminary investigation, we came to know that a villager was taking his cattle to the field for grazing. At that time, the leopard, which was around eight years old, came out of a bush and attacked him. The person raised an alert, prompting two of his neighbours to rush for his help. The leopard also mauled the duo," said a forester.
“We suspect the attack left the villagers agitated and a section of them chased and beat the leopard which led to its death. The carcass was then thrown into a local crematorium,” added the officer.
In the past few months, there have been a number of leopard attacks in some villages and tea gardens of Alipurduar.
“Most of the villagers are tightlipped over the incident. We are trying to gather information from some other sources. It is true that the leopard attacked some villagers but killing the animal is a heinous crime,” the forest officer said.
Leopard is included in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and counted as a vulnerable species in the Red Data Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“The leopard died an unnatural death. We are waiting for post-mortem report and will take appropriate steps then,” said Navojit Dey, the assistant wildlife warden of Jaldapara.