Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Indian villagers kill park leopard

Indian villagers kill park leopard

Associated Press Writer
Indian villagers kill park leopard
LUCKNOW, India (AP) -- Irate villagers chased, shot and burned to death a 4-year-old leopard after it strayed into their area from a nearby north Indian tiger reserve, a forest official said Friday.

The villagers complained the leopard had killed five people in the past four months, as well as dogs and goats.

Wildlife reserve staff who had been on the animal's trail for the past three months spotted it earlier this week but were unsuccessful in trying to tranquilize it, senior forest official Kartik Kumar Singh told The Associated Press on Friday.

Nearly 3,000 villagers thwarted their efforts by pelting stones at the animal each time it was trapped in the bushes, Singh said.

"The villagers fired shots at the leopard and when the animal entered a hut they set it on fire," he said.

The leopard was burned to death Thursday near Dudhwa National Park, 155 miles southeast of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state, he said.

Leopards are considered an endangered animal in India.

Krishna Kumar Mishra, a wildlife biologist working for animal conservation, blamed forest officials for the loss of the leopard.

"We lost five human lives and a leopard due to the apathy of forest officials. The forest officials are neither trained nor equipped to tranquilize animals," he said.

Mishra said the number of leopards in Dudhwa National Park had dropped to half a dozen.

The Wildlife Protection Society of India estimated that 150 leopards were killed across the country in 2007.

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Krishna Kumar Mishra