A five-year-old girl of a migrant labour family was killed by a leopard ,which is on the prowl in Kanlog area, a downtown locality in Shimla, on Thursday night .
The body parts of the child were recovered on Friday from the nearby forests after the teams of the forest department, police and locals had started the search operation to trace the child, who had gone missing.
The search teams also found her torn clothes with bloodstains Friday morning clearly hinting at leopard attack, which was quite obvious from the body parts.
This was quite a shocking incident in Shimla, which earlier had frequent sitting of the leopards and cubs, to enter the town in search of their prey, mainly the domestic dogs.
The leopard had sneaked into the construction site, where the migrant labour family had a temporary shelter to live, and dragged the girl to nearby forests while she had gone out to ease herself.
Principal Conservator of Forests (wildlife) Archana Sharma said the incident happened around 8:30 pm. The parents reported the matter to the police about the child suddenly disappearing after having told her grandmother about going out to ease herself .
“The family had no proper toilet and apparently they were going towards the forest which is quite dense and has no lighting,” she says .
Daughter of Manoj, who hailed from Jharkhand, Priyanka was living with her grandparents. Her both parents were in Jharkhand after the Covid lockdown .
Recalling the tragedy, her grandmother said she was cooking meals when Priyanka went out to urinate around 8.30 pm.
“I heard the sound of a bucket falling down. I thought that she had slipped on the muddy spoil ,so I rushed to help her. While I was trying to locate her in the pitch dark, someone in the neighbourhood alerted me having heard the screaming voice of the child from the forest,” she told the police .
Archana sharma said the forest teams are camping at the areas and have set-up a cage to trap the animal.
“I myself visited the place and ordered the setting-up of cameras to monitor the movement of the leopard. It’s not yet clear if he had attacked the child deliberately or mistook it as some domestic animal,” she said.
The family has been given compensation of Rs 4 lakhs, she said
The PCCF (wildlife) said, “We have not yet declared the animal as man-eater as it is to be established that the attack was deliberate and same leopard had earlier been on the prowl in the area."
A survey done by the forest department some years back with the help of a Mumbai-based NGO had recorded the movement of the leopards in some parts of the towns, especially those near the forest areas.
Last month, a leopard had also entered a house in the Krishna Nagar area of the town and injured a youth, who showed exemplary courage to lock the leopard in his toilet. The animal was, later, taken to the mini zoo to be released in the forests later.