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Sunday 27 May 2018

Leopards kill three children in rural India in one day

A leopard at the Dachigam National Park on the outskirts of Srinagar, amid reports that the animals have killed three children in a series of attacks (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)
A leopard at the Dachigam National Park on the outskirts of Srinagar, amid reports that the animals have killed three children in a series of attacks (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan, File)

Leopards have killed at least three children in a series of attacks in rural India, according to media reports and wildlife experts.

Two of the children were killed in a village in central India - possibly by the same leopard - while a 14-year-old boy died in the country's north, near the edge of a wildlife conservation area.

All three were killed on Sunday, the reports said.

With thousands of leopards and more than 1.3 billion people, cat attacks occur dozens of times a year across India.

"By and large, the story of humans and leopards is a story of coexistence," said Pranav Chanchani, co-ordinator of the Tiger Conservation programme at WWF-India.

He said there are many millions of people living close to the leopard population, but only a tiny percentage ever face an attack.

India's poorest endure the most attacks, with the most vulnerable living in makeshift shelters without electricity on the edge of forests or sugar cane fields where leopards, and sometimes tigers, can easily find shelter.

"That kind of combination can become a lethal mix," Mr Chanchani said.

The Bahraich district of Uttar Pradesh state, where the 14-year-old was killed on Sunday, has seen at least half a dozen leopard killings since the beginning of 2017, with one child reportedly dragged from his home.

The nearby Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary provides shelter to leopards and tigers.

Wildlife officials try to trap or kill cats that attack humans.

AP

Press Association

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