A team of forest department and specialized shooters shot down a man-eating leopard at Kandha village in district Pauri on Monday night. But, despite this, fear exists in the affected village as a female leopard, which used to accompany the male partner, is expected to turn aggressive. The forest department has started preparation to face the changed situation and conduct routine patrol and fix cages to trap the female leopard in the affected area.

On 23 October a tragic incident took place at Kandha village. Forty-year-old Meenakshi Nautiyal was mauled by a leopard when she had gone near her village to collect fodder. When the villagers rushed to save the lady they found two leopards on the spot – a male and female. On seeing the crowd, the jungle cats abandoned the kill and disappeared in the forest.

Specialized shooter Joy Hukil shot dead the man-eating leopard during the search operation on Monday night. Sharing his experience, Joy Hukil says, “I shot down the leopard at about 11 p.m, but we failed to recover the body as the female leopard was constantly moving around the body of her partner. We finally managed to recover the body in the morning when the crowd movement started. The female leopard was present when the kill was made and again when we executed the operation. So danger persists.”

Hukil is based in Pauri (Garhwal) and the forest department constantly takes his services for eliminating man-eaters. This specialized shooter has so far killed 35 leopards and one tiger, that have terrorized public in different parts of Uttarakhand.

The recent death of Meenakshi Nautiyal created a shockwave in the Kandha village. The incident was sad as the lady had gone to the forest telling her daughter, who was to celebrate her birthday that day, that she will prepare special dishes for her after returning. She never came back alive from the forest. Angered by the incident, the villagers blocked the Pauri-Srinagar highway on 24 October demanding speedy action to eliminate the man-eater.

Laxman Singh Rawat, Divisional Forest Officer (Garhwal) says, “We will be monitoring the behaviour of the female leopard and conducting patrol in the affected village. There are chances of the female leopard becoming active in the area and turning aggressive. We will be conducting post mortem of the killed leopard on Wednesday, as no veterinary doctor was available today.”

The Pauri district is among the worst man-animal conflict areas in the hill state. In Garhwal forest divisional alone, three leopards were killed and three others trapped in cage since May this year.