Hunt For ‘Child Killer’: Week On, No Trace Of Man-Eater Leopard In Uri

Representational Photo

Srinagar- A week after, the Jammu and Kashmir wildlife department deployed over 50 of its men including the sharp shooters to catch or kill the leopard who mauled three children to death in a week in the border town of Uri, the department has failed to trace the man-eater animal despite continuous efforts.

An official from the wildlife department told Kashmir Observer that the terrain in the border town of Uri is tough and the continuous downpour is making it difficult to catch or kill the leopard.

The leopard is suspected to be roaming the Sri forests. The officials said that few teams have been constituted with the help of forest protection departments including the police and sharp shooters to catch the animal “but so far we haven’t got any clues,” he said.

The order to kill the animal was issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden on Tuesday last under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

“In exercise of the powers vested in me under sub-section 1(a) of section 11 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 hereby accords the permission in favor of the Wildlife Warden, North Division, Kashmir to hunt or cause the said animal to be hunted forthwith with completing the required formalities,” the order said.

Suresh Kumar Gupta, Chief Wildlife Warden J&K told Kashmir Observer that terrain in the Uri is making it difficult for his men to trace the leopard.

He said the similar incident took place in Mahur village of Samba in 2019 when the leopard killed two kids but the department gave-up after three months of search operation as they couldn’t trace the animal.

“…You need to understand that the terrain is mountainous in Kashmir and the animal is very clever and tricky and it’s difficult to trace him. Gupta told Kashmir Observer, adding that “It is also possible that the leopard might have shifted to another area following the continuous disturbance,”

As reported earlier, the department has deployed over 50 of its men including the sharp shooters to catch or kill the leopard.

However, sources told Kashmir Observer that the department is running short of men and infrastructure, which is making it difficult to address the growing conflict between man and animal.

“Over 2,851 sq km is notified as wildlife areas as protected land in J&K and we have only 821 permanent staff members on the ground,” sources told Kashmir Observer.

They said the department needs over 5000 permanent staff members on the ground to tackle any crises. It may be noted that forests cover around 20% of the geographical area of Jammu and Kashmir. More than half of the Kashmir Valley is forested.

Gupta agreed that the department lacks manpower and needs more permanent staff members on the ground.

“But let me tell you that we have referred over 150 posts to the government for recruitment and its process is going on. I am sure that the issue will get resolved in the coming months,” he said.

He further added that they have more than 2000 permanent staff members of forest protection force, whose service can be availed at any time.

“We have a forest territorial wing, whose service can be also availed at any time,” he added.

However, Gupta denied that there is a lack of infrastructure in the department. He said from the last three years the department was provided with enough equipment to deal with any crises.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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