Rare Leopard Burned Alive by Angry Crowd in India

burned leopard skin photo
Original photo: quinn.anya / cc

Despite the countless organizations dedicated to raising awareness and protection for the world's most endangered species, the battle between humans and wildlife, sadly, rages on. An angry mob made up of hundreds of villagers in northern India recently seized a captured leopard from wildlife officials, dowsed it in gasoline and set it on fire -- while police and conservation officers watched helplessly.The shocking event occurred on the outskirts of Corbett National Park in northernmost India, a protected reserve for a number of endangered species, including leopards. According to a report from News One, Wildlife Officers were in the process of transporting the cat, presumably returning it to the protective boundaries of the park, when an angry mob, hundreds strong, took possession of the caged animal.

Chief Wildlife Conservator S.K. Chandola describes the disturbing scene:

Irate villagers forcibly took custody of the leopard that was captured and put in a cage and was being taken away by department officials. The villagers doused the leopard with petrol and threw a lit matchstick inside the cage, sending the animal up in flames.

Even though there were about 35 wildlife officials and four policemen, they were overpowered by a mob of 300-400 people who would not let the officials go anywhere close to the burning animal that kept wailing and roaring inside the cage until he met his end.

Chandola reported that the endangered leopard had apparently ventured outside of its designated area within the park and may be the same animal responsible for recent mauling attacks that left three locals injured. For the vengeful crowd that gathered shortly after, the wildlife officials plan to simply return the animal back to the reserve was insufficient justice, so they decided to take matters into their own hands.

The animal's cruel demise mirrors a similar incident which occurred just last January, when another group of villagers beat a leopard to death with sticks and cricket bats in another Indian city, reportedly in retaliation to two people being mauled. This animal, too, had strayed from a nearby reserve and into a populated area.

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