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Buddhist monk killed by leopard as he meditated in India's Ramdegi forest

Rahul Walke Bodhi was sitting under a tree in Ramdegi forest in western India for morning prayers on Tuesday when the leopard pounced.

The 35-year-old monk was fatally injured, police in Maharashtra state said, in what is the fifth attack in a month.

Two other devotees meditating with him managed to escape unhurt and alerted police.

Krisna Tiwari, a senior police officer in the region, said: “His badly mauled body was found further into the forest, indicating the animal tried to drag it along.”

The forest is about 510 miles west from the state capital Mumbai and falls within a protected reserve for big cats.

Four other fatal attacks have occurred in recent weeks.

Police said the monks were in the area for an annual prayer conference and had ignored warnings from officials about venturing too far into the forest.

The attack followed a separate fatal incident on Monday when shopkeeper Sandeep Arjun was killed outside his stall on the outskirts of the forest.

It is not known whether the same leopard was responsible for both attacks.

Three more deaths attributed to leopards and tigers have been reported around the reserve in the past month, police said.

According to official estimates there are between 12,000 and 14,000 leopards in India.

Urban expansion has seen their number decline as forest habitats shrink, bringing them into closer contact and conflict with humans.

Government figures show an estimated 431 leopards were killed in 2017 – most by poachers for their hides and body parts.

There are no statistics on the number of humans killed by leopards, but experts say there are hundreds of deaths every year.

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