Sri Lanka court orders arrest of villagers who killed leopard

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A Sri Lanka court on Friday ordered the arrest of villagers who beat a leopard to death after the big cat, an endangered animal in the country, eluded capture by wildlife officials.

Local television showed irate villagers in northern Kilinochchi district, a former war zone, attacking a leopard they said had injured at least 10 villagers including a wildlife official as it hunted cattle and goats.

“The Magistrate ordered officials to conduct an investigation and arrest those responsible after the police reported facts to the courts,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told Reuters.

The Sri Lankan leopard is a subspecies native to Sri Lanka first described in 1956 by a Sri Lankan zoologist. The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the Sri Lankan leopard as Endangered in 2008.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal, Editing by William Maclean

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