A leopard that had strayed into a village in Alipurduar’s Falakata on Thursday and injured five persons was bludgeoned to death by villagers after forest officials had darted the animal to capture it.
The incident in Raichenga village follows panic in the district after a spate of leopard attacks in recent weeks left three kids dead. Forest officials have concluded a single leopard was involved in the incidents and secured permission to “eliminate” it.
On Thursday, the leopard in Raichenga is suspected to have sneaked in from a neighbouring tea estate, which is close to the Jaldapara National Park, sources said.
Nripen Barman, a farmer, spotted the leopard and raised the alarm, prompting the animal to scamper away and take shelter in a drain.
Foresters were informed and a team from Jaldapara arrived. Hundreds of villagers gathered, too, some of whom started teasing the leopard, causing it to attack the five persons. “We asked the villagers to go away and let us trap the animal. But they did not listen,” said a forest official.
After some time, the animal was darted. As the leopard turned drowsy, some of the villagers started hitting it with sticks and stones. The foresters said they were outnumbered and could not control the crowd, a section of which jumped on the animal. “We rushed the leopard to a rescue centre but found it dead,” the official said.
Ujjwal Ghosh, the chief conservator of forests (wild life), said it was “unfortunate that the villagers beat the leopard to death after it was darted”. “We will file a police complaint”.
A female leopard was trapped in a tea estate in Alipurduar’s Madarihat-Birpara where foresters are in search of the lone killer animal. “It is not the one we are looking for,” Ghosh said.