Bhubaneswar, Jan 14 (Agencies): Wildlife officials on Friday launched a manhunt to nab those involved in brutally killing a leopard on the outskirts of this Orissa capital. The leopard was beaten to death on Thursday by an agitated mob.

"We have booked six people under the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA). We have launched a manhunt to arrest them," a senior state wildlife official told IANS.
"We are identifying several other villagers who were involved in the crime. They will also be arrested soon," the official said.

Villagers Thursday beat up the leopard to death with sticks and cricket bats near Gandarpur village after the wild animal allegedly attacked and injured two people. The two-year-old male leopard reportedly strayed into the area from the nearby Chandaka forest.

Leopards enjoy highest protection under the Wildlife Protection Act like tigers and elephants.
The state government has ordered a probe into the killing after the local wildlife officials and residents traded charges against each other on the killing.

The villagers said they were forced to kill the wild big cat in self defense as the local officials did not take any step. The wildlife officials said the villagers killed the animal in a hurry without waiting for the officials to reach the site.