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Leopards killed 3 kids in past month in Bengal's Dooars

Foresters have launched round-the-clock vigil at the tea garden and set up 4 traps

By Our Correspondent in Alipurduar

  • Published 17.01.19, 2:01 AM
  • Updated 17.01.19, 2:01 AM
Residents protest at the Garganda Tea Estate on Wednesday.
Residents protest at the Garganda Tea Estate on Wednesday. Picture by Anirban Choudhury

The mutilated body of a four-year-old girl taken away by a leopard from in front of her mother’s eyes from a tea estate in Alipurduar was found 500 metres from her home on Wednesday, the third time in the past month that children have fallen prey to wild cats in the Birpara-Madarihat block.

Pramita Oraon had been playing on the courtyard of the workers’ quarters at the Garganda Tea Estate in the Dooars on Tuesday evening when the leopard caught her by the neck and took her away. Her mother, who had been feeding Pramita’s baby brother, and father, who was inside the house, could do nothing to save her.

On Wednesday, Pramita’s disfigured body was found in a deserted corner of the tea estate.

Garden workers in the Birpara-Madarihat block said they were scared because of frequent leopard attacks on children.

“It is a matter of great concern for us. We are feeling scared to work or to even step out of home. We are worried about sending our children to school,” said Rita Kheria, a worker at Garganda and mother of two children.

It is common for leopards to enter north Bengal tea estates.

“They find easy prey for themselves and their cubs. Earlier leopards used to target poultry, calves and in some cases, dogs. But in the past one month, leopards have attacked humans four times here — thrice children and once an adult. We are planning to consult experts on ways to handle the trouble,” said Kumar Vimal, divisional forest officer of the Jaldapara wildlife division.

Foresters have launched round-the-clock vigil at the garden and installed four cages to trap the leopard.

On December 12, Eden Ekka, a six-year-old boy, had been mauled by a leopard at the Dhumchipara Tea Estate. Four days later a retired worker was attacked twice by a leopard at the same garden while he was sleeping at home.

After a few days, Aniket Oraon, a 12-year-old boy, was taken away by a leopard at the Ramjhora Tea Estate adjacent to Dhumchipara.

On Wednesday, locals protested when foresters and police came to the Garganda Tea Estate. The locals refused to hand over Pramita’s body to the police. After around three hours, when Vimal handed over a compensation cheque to the family, that the protesters allowed the police to take away the body.

Forest officials said they did not have data on the number of leopards in Bengal.

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