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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

NGO files complaint after hyena gets beaten to death by villagers in West Midnapore

Multiple videos and pictures of the alleged assault have been widely circulated on the internet. One of the videos shows a group of men chasing the hyena and pelting it with stones and bricks

Debraj Mitra Calcutta Published 04.07.23, 06:59 AM
A picture of the hyena shared by the NGO HEAL. A member of the NGO said the animal was seen in the picture taking shelter in a bus stand on Saturday. The same animal was found dead later in the day, the member said

A picture of the hyena shared by the NGO HEAL. A member of the NGO said the animal was seen in the picture taking shelter in a bus stand on Saturday. The same animal was found dead later in the day, the member said Sayan Bhattacharya

A hyena was allegedly beaten to death in a village in West Midnapore on Saturday.

The hyena is said to have strayed into Murakata village, around 10km from Midnapore town, from nearby forests.

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Multiple videos and pictures of the alleged assault have been widely circulated on the internet. One of the videos shows a group of men chasing the hyena and pelting it with stones and bricks.

Limping, the hyena can be seen taking shelter in what looks like a waiting area for bus passengers. Towards the end, the hyena desperately tries to escape but the mob runs after it.

Another picture shows a group of men armed with sticks and rods, surrounding the bloody carcass of a hyena.

This newspaper could not verify the authenticity of the video or the picture.

“The body was found off a road used by cars and buses. We had initially thought the animal could have died after being hit by a vehicle. But after seeing the videos and talking to some locals, we are not ruling out the possibility of the animal being killed by people. We have registered a case and started a probe,” said Manish Yadav, divisional forest officer of West Midnapore.

“Despite the evidence of involvement of villagers in causing the hyena’s death, the forest department tried to pass it off as an accident,” said Meghna Banerjee of Human and Environment Alliance League (HEAL), an NGO that has filed a complaint with the chief wildlife warden, urging the arrest of the offenders.

A forest official said the mutilated body was that of a striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), the type of hyenas found in the dry and semi-arid fringe forests of India. The forests of south Bengal are home to a population of striped hyenas, said researchers. In Bengal, there has not been any formal documentation of the hyena population.

The striped hyena is smaller, more solitary and less social than the well-known spotted hyenas of Africa, who are famed hunters capable of taking down a much bigger prey.

Carcasses of other animals are their main food. As scavengers, they play a crucial role in the food chain and help prevent the spread of diseases by eating every bit of an animal, said wildlife experts.

Literature, traditional folklore and popular culture have portrayed an unsavoury picture of the hyena as a gluttonous scavenger with a demonic laugh. “Unfortunately, hyenas being elusive and nocturnal are least understood by people. And what you don’t understand generates an uncanny fear based on nothing but false beliefs. As a result, hyenas are often killed when seen in broad daylight,” said Vasudha Mishra, a researcher with HEAL.

In July 2020, a hyena was allegedly killed, beheaded and chopped into pieces by some residents of a village in Purulia.

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