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11 Jul 2018

Leopard whiff in tea garden death

TT, Jalpaiguri: A woman was found dead on Wednesday with her mutilated body in a Dooars tea garden after a suspected leopard attack.

The incident in the Jalpaiguri's Malbazar was described by forest officials and residents as "rare" as it was the first such occurrence in the area since the deaths of two children over a decade ago and also because leopards have not been known to kill humans often.

The death of Sukramoni Oraon, 34, has led to panic in the area with demands that foresters should trap the animal immediately.

Sukramoni and husband Birsai, were returning home to the Baintguri tea estate in Malbazar from adjoining Teshimla. "I work as a casual worker in Baintguri but at times, we also go to Teshimla for jobs. On Tuesday, both of us were returning home. My wife was tired and on the way, she told me to move ahead and sat near the plantations to take rest," said the husband.

It was around 5.30pm when he walked away to home but when Sukramoni did not return even after 8pm, he started searching for her. "I returned to the place where she had stopped to take rest but could not find her. I also checked with some acquaintances but none could give me any information. Some others joined me and together, we searched for her till 11pm or so. I then planned to visit the police station in the morning," Birsai said.

On Wednesday morning, as tea workers moved into the plantations of Baintguri, they spotted the disfigured body of Sukramoni. Foresters were informed and a team rushed to the spot.

"The manner in which flesh has been gnawed from different parts of the body indicates it was a full-grown adult leopard. The animal also tried to conceal the body by putting some earth on it," said a source in the forest department.

"In 2007, a leopard had attacked and killed two children in the garden. A similar incident has happened but after many years. The animal should be trapped," said Shankar Sarkar, the manager of the garden. Several children use the road on way to school.

"It is a very rare incident. We are not ruling out that it might be an act by a leopard but we can only confirm after post-mortem," said Ujjwal Ghosh, conservator of forests (wildlife, north Bengal).

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