India Offers Reward for Leopard Eyed in Children's Deaths

Police in Indian-controlled Kashmir offered a reward Tuesday for any information on a killer leopard believed to have eaten three children in the last week.

Three children aged between eight and 10 were mauled to death by a leopard near Chatergul village last week, officials said. A 10-year old boy was also killed there last month.

Chatergul village is 56 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of India's Jammu-Kashmir state.

A reward of 10,000 Indian rupees (US$225) would be given to anyone with information on tracking down the leopard, said police officer Hemant Lohia.

Wildlife officers said an exception to laws protecting leopards had been made.

"We've given permission for the killing of the leopard as it has turned into a man-eater," said Farooq Ahmed, an officer in the wildlife department.

Leopards are protected under the Indian Wildlife Act and their killing is punishable by up to six years imprisonment.

Leopard attacks on humans sometimes increase in winter when they are forced down from their natural ranges by snow in search of food.

Meanwhile in the state's Manda national park, some 90 kilometers south of Jammu city, villagers caught and killed another leopard that was prowling around their village, park officials said.

In the last six months 10 people have been killed by wild animals in two districts of Jammu-Kashmir state, Anantnag and Pulwama, while a similar number of bears and leopards have been killed in the same time, said Lohia.