A remote district of Nepal is being terrorized by a man-eating leopard that officials believe is responsible for more than 15 deaths in 15 months. Worse yet, the creature is expected to continue preying on small villages that border its habitat unless steps are taken to exterminate the animal.
The big cat’s latest victim was a 4-year-old boy whose remains were discovered in the jungle, not far from his village, this past weekend. According to CNN, two-thirds of the leopard’s victims thus far have been children under the age of 10. Most of the rest were older children, although the cat has killed a 29-year-old woman who had wandered into the forest alone.
Officials from Baitadi, the district in which the kills have taken place, believe that they are dealing with a solitary cat or possibly two leopards at most. They also fear the number of human deaths may be greater than 15 as the animal’s habitat falls along the border with India, where similar leopard attacks have been reported in recent months as well.
The hunting of wild animals is strictly prohibited in Nepal, which means villagers in Baitadi can’t normally go hunting the leopard. But specialists from the Department of Parks and Wildlife Conservation in Kathmandu have admitted that this particular animal will have to be put down. Its continued preying on humans over a prolonged period of time indicates that it is a dangerous animal that isn’t likely to discontinue its unusual hunting practices. To that end, CNN reports that a bounty worth about $300 has been put out on the animal, whether it is captured dead or alive.
Typically thoughts of Nepal conjure images of snow-capped peaks and high mountain passes, which makes it easy to forget that the country also has some very wild lowland areas too. Those areas are home to a wide variety of wildlife species, including elephants, rhinos, monkeys and even tigers. That abundant wildlife has made those regions popular with tourists, who can get an unexpected safari while visiting the Himalayan country.
[Photo credit: Rute Martins of Leoa’s Photography via WikiMedia]