The brutal death of a 51-year-old man in what is suspected to have been a leopard attack sparked fears on Friday that the big cat is on the prowl in Darjeeling.

“The pug mark of a leopard was found at the scene of the crime. So we suspect it may be a leopard attack,” Bhuvan Giri, the range officer of the East Range of the Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

Out on a morning walk, the mutilated body of Chogyal Sherpa was found lying on the road in Lower Tungsung near the Chowrasta Mall. An alarm was sounded and the police informed. With suspicions that he may be the victim of a leopard attack, the officials of the State’s Forest Department were also informed. “The flesh on the limbs and abdomen of the body appears to have been eaten away,” Mr. Giri said, adding that the police were conducting the post-mortem.

That another leopard attack occurred in the town merely two weeks ago only fuelled fears that the animal had struck again but Mr. Giri ruled out that the two incidents were related.

Two weeks ago Pasang Sherpa was attacked when he had gone to the toilet. He was not killed in the attack but sustained major injuries and is currently being treated at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Mr. Giri said.

 But the leopard that had attacked Pasang Sherpa was a young animal. The pug mark we have found near Chogyal Sherpa’s body is that of a mature female leopard. It could not have been the same animal,” he explained.