Pune, April 12: A one-and-a-half-year-old girl from a shepherd's family in Pune was mauled to death by a leopard at Shiroli Khurd village in Junnar early on Thursday morning. The toddler and her father were sleeping in a sugar cane field when the incident occurred.

According to a TOI report, forest officials and villagers later recovered the girl's severed palm and skull from the area. "The leopard probably entered the field in search of prey, drawn by the scent of goats and sheep, and then spotted the sleeping toddler," said Smita Rajhans, a forest officer from the Manchar range under the Junnar forest division. Ahmedabad Shocker: Boss Thrashes Employee for Taking a Day’s Leave From Office, Complaint Registered.

Upon hearing the girl's screams, family members raised an alarm. Forest officials, along with Wildlife SOS, a non-government organisation, initiated a search operation around 5:45am, using 10 camera traps and thermal drones. Approximately 100 villagers also joined the search. Ahmedabad Shocker: Man Allegedly Bites Off Wife's Finger During Domestic Dispute in Sardarnagar After Accusing Her of Having an Affair.

"Five hours into the search, we spotted the girl's severed palm and skull. We are still searching for the rest of her body, which might have been scattered or devoured by the leopard as it moved through the field. We also recovered clumps of leopard's fur from the spot," said Amit Bhise, assistant conservator of forest, Junnar division.

The department plans to install 10 to 15 trap cages, camera traps, and conduct regular thermal drone surveillance to capture the leopard. "Since the leopard has now tasted human flesh, it can become a man-eater. Once we capture the feline, we will conduct DNA tests. After checking its behaviour and the tests, we will be able to ascertain its nature, and place the leopard in lifetime care. The family members will be provided a financial aid of Rs 25 lakh," Bhise added.

The search operation will continue until the leopard is trapped. The department also conducts awareness programmes advising shepherds and others to avoid locations that put them at risk.

In response to demands for birth control measures against leopards, Amol Satpute, deputy conservator of forest, Junnar division, stated, "Junnar forest division had already moved a proposal regarding the same in January 2024 and is awaiting further orders from the government."

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 12, 2024 04:20 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).