A leopard was shot dead at Shikarpur in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal on Sunday after it entered a village and seriously injured 11 persons.

“We had to shoot it as the situation was getting out of control, and a team sent to tranquillise the animal was unable to spot it,” District Superintendent Anand Kumar told The Hindu over telephone.

When the leopard initially attacked five persons, villagers alerted the police. The staff members of four nearby forest ranges, including a tranquillisation team, were rushed to the spot, Sheelwant Patel, Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife), north Bengal, said.

“The leopard was hiding in bushes and shrubs, and in paddy fields. It would suddenly come out and attack a person before darting back to take cover,” he said.

Eleven persons, including a policeman and a staff member of the Forest Department, were attacked and had to be rushed to the district hospital. One of them was in a critical condition, he said.

“A huge crowd gathered, and the situation was getting out of hand when a policeman shot at the leopard, injuring it. It died later,” Kalyan Das, Divisional Forest Officer, Jalpaiguri, said.

As per the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, a wild animal may be shot, if it poses a threat to the people's safety, but permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden must be sought.

“In that situation, nothing else could be done. We will apply to the Chief Wildlife Warden for post de-facto permission,” Mr. Das said.