A man-eating leopard has claimed its latest victim, following a string of attacks on mainly drunken villagers as they attempt to make their way home.
The big cat claimed its latest victim on Thursday, when it killed a 44-year-old man from Badeth village.
Villagers now fear the animal may soon strike again and arm themselves at all times, after the animal attacked and killed another man earlier this year, a villager told the Telegraph.
The leopard first killed in 2012, when it pounced on a 46-year-old man from Seimar Village. It has since killed 12 people, including two women, and injured 4 others, local authorities say.
Madan Paneru from Kotali village told the Telegraph most of the victims were drunk when the leopard savaged them.
"Many in the village believe that drunk people are easy prey for the wild," he said.
However, Belinda Wright, the leading conservationist and head of the Wildlife Protection Society of India, told the newspaper she doubts that leopards are targeting drunks, but rather that their behaviour made them vulnerable.
"Quite frankly when people are drunk and weave their way back home to the village they are easy prey. I don't think the leopard is targeting drunk people, just people stumbling along the path at night.
"I'm sure you won't taste any better because you've consumed liquor," she said.
I K Singh, Pithoragarh's divisional forest officer, echoed Ms Wright’s sentiments, citing that other victims had been attacked when they left outside lavatories.
He added that it is unclear whether the creature is male or female, but that it is thought to be between 10 and 12 years old and “robust”.
Leopards and tigers usually turn to attacking humans when they are injured or old and can no longer catch dogs - their favoured prey.
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