Two leopard cubs clubbed to death

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 13, 2011 14:50 hrs

Lucknow, March 13 (IANS) Even as a national campaign is underway to save India's tiger population, farmers in an Uttar Pradesh village Sunday clubbed to death two one-year-old leopard cubs in an apparent revenge attack after the mother leopard attacked a woman in a tiger reserve.

The incident happened in the Katarniya Ghat wildlife reserve in Bahraich district barely 24 hours after the woman was mauled.

According to state chief wildlife conservator B.K. Patnaik, 'the cubs were killed when a large number of local farmers surrounded them after a farmer's wife was attacked by the mother leopard while the woman was watering her fields'.

He said: 'The mother leopard managed to leap to safety, but the one-year-old cubs were cornered and beaten to death.'

Geeta (25), the woman attacked by the leopard, was admitted to a Bahraich hospital and is stated to be out of danger.

Her husband Surendra Singh, an ex-serviceman, who was with her at the time of the attack, told reporters in Katarniya Ghat: 'The leopard would have killed my wife had the farmers not immediately rushed to help.'

Katarniya Ghat along the Indo-Nepal border, about 140 km from Lucknow, is an extended part of Uttar Pradesh's largest Dudhwa National Park. It has an an estimated population of 30 leopards and about 40 tigers.

According to the last census in 2008, only 1,411 tigers remain in India, a sharp fall from 3,000 two decades ago.

The latest census details will be released March 28.

As many as 14 tigers have died in India this year till February, including two due to poaching, the union environment and forest ministry said early this month.