Leopard drags off and eats three-year-old boy at Uganda's national park

Leopard drags off and eats three-year-old boy at Uganda's national park
(Source: Getty Images)

A three-year-old son of a game ranger has been tragically killed by a leopard at the Mweya Safari Lodge in Uganda. The child was in the care of his nanny at the time. The incident happened on the evening of Friday, 4th May. According to local reports, the child was snatched from the unfenced staff quarters of the Uganda Wildlife Authority at the Queen Elizabeth National Park on which the lodge is situated. 

A Leopard in the Pilanesberg National Park. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

"The maid was not aware the child followed her,” Uganda Wildlife Authority spokesman Bashir Hangi told The Independent.  "She heard the kid scream for help, she intervened but it was too late. The leopard had vanished with it in the bush and a search was mounted until we got the skull the next day. The hunt is on with the intention of capturing the leopard and removing it from the wild.”

The toddler, believed to be named Elisha Nabugyere, was reportedly snatched from a doorway and dragged off into the bushes. His remains were found the next day and handed over to his distraught parents. His mother, who works as a park ranger, was at a neighbor’s house at the time. The child’s father, policeman Francis Manana Nabugyere, told local reporters that he hopes the UWA will take the incident into account and provide better security for the staff and their families.

Efforts are on to locate the wild animal since it is imperative that it is relocated from the area. “Once it has eaten human flesh the temptations are high to eat another human being, it becomes dangerous,” said Hangi. The child has since been given a funeral. It is unclear whether a compensation will be paid to the bereaved family.

Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda is popular with tourists flocking to watch leopards roam the Mweya Peninsula, which lies beside Lake Edward. The park also hosts elephants, African buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, lions and chimpanzees. 

The zoo authorities say that leopard attacks have been rare in the area. In a similar case, two years ago, in South Africa's Kruger National Park an eight-year-old Kellan Denny was playing with his sibling and was running along a low wall in the game reserve. As his father watched, a leopard lunged at the little boy and dragged the child down 30 meters while clamping its teeth into Denny's shoulders.

However, it was a lucky escape for the child as the leopard soon dropped Denny allowing the father to save his child. At that time the manager of the camp had said that it was the first incident of its kind at the reserve in 40 years.

Recently, there have been two cases of animal attacks within closed wildlife parks. The most recent was of a filmmaker being killed after a giraffe headbutted him. 

Carlos Carvalho, a filmmaker who had won an award at Cannes Film Festival, was killed when a giraffe named Gerald headbutted him. Carvalho was reportedly in the middle of a shoot and did not see the attack coming. The animal was described as "inquisitive" but not threatening. The authorities at Glen Afric Country Lodge where the attack happened decided that the animal was not dangerous and decided not to have it put down. They also suggested that Carvalho may have ignored safety warnings. The filmmaker died despite being taken to a Johannesburg hospital. 

Then in April, a 71-year-old British man named Michael Hodge was attacked by a lion at Marakele Animal Sanctuary. Hodge, who founded the sanctuary in 2010, was attacked by Shamba, a lion he had personally raised since it was a cub. He was reportedly investigating the animal's enclosure to find the source of a smell that seemed to be upsetting Shamba. The attack left him with a broken jaw and several lacerations. Hodge received prompt medical attention and managed to survive the attack. The lion was put down to prevent any further incidents. Hodge and his family were reportedly devastated that the animal they had lovingly raised since it was a month old had to be put down under such circumstances.

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