Leopard Mauls Child to Death

SRINAGAR: A seven-year-old boy was mauled to death by a leopard, while another one was injured by bear in Kashmir, officials said Monday.

The two separate attacks tool place in village Ucharhal- Handwara of Kupwara district and Quil Muqam of Bandipore district.

"A boy aged seven years was killed after a leopard attacked him in Handwara," said a police spokesman. "In another attack a bear injured a 13-year-old boy in Bandipore. He was immediately referred to hospital and is undergoing treatment."

Locals at Handwara said the leopard suddenly appeared in the village Ucharhal-Handwara and attacked a group of children playing in the field.

The death of the boy triggered protests against wildlife officials, who according to locals are indifferent toward roaming of wild animals in the human habitations. Reports said it was a second incident in the area in the past 20 days.

"The mutilated body of the seven-year-old boy was found in the bushes," said Abdul Qayoom, a local.

Wildlife officials say leopards and bears stray into residential areas usually in search of food. However, the human presence makes them insecure, following which they resort to attacking people. At times these creatures are attacked by scared villagers in retaliation which also proves fatal for them.

There are strict laws in force in the region against the killing of wild animals. Wildlife expert say mass urbanization, denudation of forests, encroachment of forestland, vanishing of buffer zones in the forests and extraction of medicinal plants are some of the reasons behind increasing conflict between humans and animals.

Last year several people were killed in man-animal conflict in the region.

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