KATHMANDU: A wild animal thought to be a jackal dragged away and devoured a two-year-old girl in Nepal’s southern plains, police said yesterday, in a rare fatal attack targeting humans.
The toddler was snatched as she played alone by a sugarcane plantation near her home in the district of Mahottari, bordering India, on Saturday and found dead the following morning by locals who said only her head remained intact.
“The body of the child was found at the bank of a river 300 metres from her house yesterday morning,” said local police officer Jaya Narayan Yadav.
“The remains of her body looked similar to the remains of a goat eaten by a jackal. The wild animal had eaten the flesh and there was only the remains of the skeleton of the chest and the bones of the legs.
“Since there is a sugarcane plantation near the village, we suspect that the animal that killed the child could be jackal.”
The Indian or Himalayan jackal, which is similar in appearance to a small wolf and can carry rabies, is abundant in Nepal’s southern Terai plains and shelters in holes in dense brush on the outskirts of villages and farms.
It is primarily a scavenger which eats garbage and offal, although it is known to supplement its diet with rodents, reptiles, fruit and insects and does occasionally kill poultry, goats and lambs.
While jackals frequently bite villagers, fatal attacks are rare, although a jackal dragged a three-month-old from the backyard of her home in the same area in July, killing the baby and dumping her body in a paddy field.