Bijnor (Uttar Pradesh): A five-year-old boy was mauled to death in a leopard attack while another child was critically injured in the same attack.
The attack happened on Tuesday and is the third attack by a leopard on the children in the past two days.
According to reports, late on Monday evening, four-year-old Nishu and five-year-old Chetan were playing outside their houses in the Prempuri village near Najibabad.
The children shouted for help when they spotted a leopard.
The animal attacked Nishu in the neck and carried Chetan away. Nishu was taken to a hospital and villagers started searching for Chetan. The search did not yield any results on Monday but on Tuesday, villagers resumed the search.
They found the child's half-eaten body in a sugarcane field around 300 metres from the village. Parts of the child's back, hands and face were missing and the hands had been separated from the body.
The other child Nishu was critically injured.
Earlier, on Sunday, a similar attack had taken place in Akbarpur Chauganva village where a leopard picked up a five-year-old boy, Rohan. When his family members came to his rescue, the animal dropped the boy and fled. Rohan sustained injuries on his neck and is currently recuperating in a government hospital.
Bijnor Divisional Forest Officer M. Semmaran said: "We have set up cages to trap leopards and our staff have increased vigil and patrolling. A probe into the killing of the child is on."
Najibabad Divisional Forest Officer Manoj Shukla said that a leopard could not be declared a man eater as yet.
"It was the first time that a leopard ate a kid's body. We cannot declare it a man eater yet. The attacks were carried out in different areas. We are not sure if the same leopard is attacking the villagers. We have alerted our staff and have put cages in different areas," he said.
According to villagers, leopards have been stalking sugarcane farms of late in search of food.
Bijnor is the second largest sugarcane cultivator in the state after Lakhimpur Kheri and with depletion of forest cover, incidents of man-animal conflict have been on the rise.
Leopards usually feed on animals like dogs, goats, rabbits, wild boars, nilgai calves, jackals, etc. which are easy to prey and are available in sugarcane fields.
However, of late, leopards have started targeting children.
There has also been an increase in leopard population in the area. More than a dozen cubs were spotted by the forest officials in May this year.
A week ago, a leopard had pounced on an infant, which was sitting alone in a bullock cart where its parents had left him. As his parents rushed back to rescue the child, the leopard dropped the baby and fled.
On December 8, a leopard attacked a 16-year-old boy in Avadipur Bani village and on November 27, a leopard attacked and killed 45-year-old Samala Devi in Nawada village.