Man-eater hunted down, Himachal villagers breathe easy

SPOTTED, SHOT DEAD: Hunter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, who was rushed in from a sojourn at his Ooty resort, poses with the leopard he shot dead on Sunday. Photo: Special Arrangement  

Famed Hyderabadi hunter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan on Sunday shot dead a man-eating leopard that had been terrorising people of the Thunag hamlet in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district.

Mr. Khan, a licensed hunter, was at his Ooty resort in Tamil Nadu when he received a frantic call from the Dogra District Forest Officer. The Himachal Pradesh government had issued orders to kill the predator and Mr. Khan was asked to rush to Mandi.

Mr. Khan, 53, obliged to forgo the Id celebrations, picked up his 458 Magnum rifle from Hyderabad and rushed to Delhi on August 8.

The next day, upon reaching Thunag, 250 km from Chandigarh, Mr. Khan surveyed the village with forest officials, who briefed him of the spots where the leopard had struck.

Radha Devi, 25, was attacked by the animal as she made her way home on July 18. It devoured her completely, leaving behind only her head and hands. On July 26, the leopard dragged Mani Devi ,52, away from her home even as her husband and son rushed out to find her bleeding grievously.

Two days later, 30-year-old Kashmiri Singh’s body was found half-eaten in the jungle.

In the “vast hilly area dominated by thick forest”, Mr. Khan was able to trace the “game track” thanks to the rain the previous night. He found the man-eater, all 7’2’’ of it, lounging amid the dense foliage early on Sunday. Even as the feline charged at him, Mr. Khan fired at its neck and the big cat collapsed.

As the carcass was brought to Thunag, locals erupted in wild celebrations. “This is real Id for me as I could bring relief to the panicked villagers,” said the hunter, who had killed a tiger in Faizabad in 2009. Officials say the leopard had strayed into human habitat due to lack of natural prey such as sambar and barking deer in the hilly terrain.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 1:51:45 AM |

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