Angry villagers burn alive captured leopard

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Kalagarh (Uttarakhand), March 24 (IANS) A mob of about 300-400 villagers poured petrol on a caged leopard and burnt it alive on the outskirts of the Corbett National Park here, even as wildlife wardens and some policemen stood by helplessly, an official said.

The animal was captured alive in Dhandhar village, on the outskirts of the Corbett Tiger Reserve.

According to Uttarakhand Chief Wildlife Conservator S.K. Chandola: ‘Irate villagers (Wednesday evening) forcibly took custody of the leopard that was captured and put in a cage and was being taken away by department officials.’

He said, ‘The villagers doused the leopard with petrol and threw a lit matchstick inside the cage, sending the animal up in flames.’

Chandola said, ‘Even though there were about 35 wildlife officials and four policemen, they were overpowered by a mob of 300-400 people who would not let the officials go anywhere close to the burning animal that kept wailing and roaring inside the cage until he met his end.’

Contrary to some reports, which said the animal had killed a few people over the past few days, Chandola clarified: ‘The leopard had apparently strayed from the periphery of Corbett reserve area and was reported to have attacked and wounded three people on Wednesday.’

Wildlife enthusiasts blamed wildlife officials for not ensuring protection to the leopard which is listed among the endangered species and its killing entails imprisonment up to seven years.

While an FIR had been registered against an unnamed mob, no one has been arrested so far.

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