Srinagar: Eleven days after a four-year-old girl was mauled to death by a man-eater leopardess, the joint team of wildlife department and local hunters on Tuesday trapped the beast inside the premises of Deputy Commissioner’s office in Budgam town of central Kashmir.
“Luckily we managed to capture the big-cat alive because the people living nearby were getting worried as they could neither take their cattle out for grazing nor carry out their daily activities,” said Manzoor Ahmed, one of the local hunters that helped to neutralise and capture the man-eater leopardess.
On June 3, the female leopard weighing 80 kilograms took away the four-year-old girl Ada Yasir Mir from her kitchen garden when she was playing with her brother and grandfather. Next morning, the minor’s mutilated body was recovered by the locals and officials from a nursery after nightlong searches.
The incident had sparked massive outrage against the Wildlife department’s alleged inaction in securing the people from frequent attacks from wild animals. Under fire, the wildlife department started a massive operation to capture or kill the beast.
Besides hiring five specially trained local hunters, the wildlife department also mapped the entire area, placed camera traps and cages and used drones to track and trap the leopardess on large. Even fresh meat smeared with blood was procured in order to bait the beast.
The leopardess, believed to be in the age range of six to ten, is said to have moved from the higher reaches of Budgam towards the Ompora forests over 4 months back and had made a 5-km radius around the nucleus of the Ompora forest, closer to human habitation, its dwelling place.
Afshana Diwan, Wildlife Warden Wetlands told Kashmir Observer on Tuesday that after reconnaissance for days, the experts found that the leopardess was frequently mounting Budgam nursery that lies near to the DC office complex and Ompora nursery where the mauled body of the girl was found.
Acting quickly, she said, infra-red cameras were installed at the possible and strategic routes that the wild animal was frequenting.
“On June 13, there was a breach captured by the infra-red camera. The images of the leopardess caught by the camera in the Ompora and Budgam nurseries gave an indication of its whereabouts,” she said.
“The track of the animal was mapped down and bait-cages were placed at several different locations. One of the camera traps near the Budgam nursery captured the leopardess early this morning today,” she added.
Finally, the hide and seek between the officials of her department and the man-eater beast, she said, ended this morning.
“It’s the same leopardess that had mauled a five year old girl to death. The man-eater is a fully grown female leopard and weighs around 80 kg. The leopard will be shifted to the Dachigam National Park, where it will be treated and kept in for the rest of its life” Afshana said.
As the terror of the man-eater leopardess has finally come to an end, the locals have expressed a sigh of relief.
“My children can finally step out of the house after 11 days of confinement for the fear of being attacked by the beast,” Tauseef Hussain, a resident of Ompora housing colony, told Kashmir Observer.
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