Indian wolf
As many as 21 villagers were injured in a possible wolf attack in Dhaurahra area of Lakhimpur Kheri district on Sunday night. The attacks took place in a span of a couple of hours after sunset. All the victims belonged to eight villages adjacent to the buffer zone of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. All are located within a 16-km radius comprising some 20 villages.

Some of the victims claimed that a lone wolf had attacked them. However, forest department officials are yet to ascertain if it was a wolf or a jackal. However, they are certain that the same carnivore attacked all the victims. They are trying to locate the animal that has created panic among the residents of nearly 20 villages in Dhaurahra. They suspect that the animal may have lost its senses after failing to get a mate and is attacking everyone or it may have become rabid.

A recent census by WWF-India had confirmed the presence of 100 Indian wolves in the Dhaurahra forests. The Indian wolf is protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The attacks have dampened Holi celebrations in some 20 villages in Dhaurahra, including Pareli, Mudiya, Gaudi, Tamolipur, Manjha and Shumali, with terrified residents not knowing when the next attack will take place.

The first attack was reported from Pareva village on Sunday evening when Sree Krishan was attacked in his sugarcane field. The next attack took place at Maharajnagar, where Sulema Bi, 40, was grievously injured by the same animal. The attacks continued for the next couple of hours in the area.

Divisional forest officer Anil Patel told TOI, "The carnivore was continuously on the move, We kept getting reports of attacks from different villages. All the victims were shifted to Khamariya community health centre and administered anti-rabies injections. Later, two of the injured were shifted to the district hospital as their injuries were grave."

The foresters have been trying to capture the animal by tracking its pugmarks but are yet to spot it. "We have advised all villagers to stay alert and refrain from going to their fields alone. If this carnivore is a wolf, then we will seek permission of the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) for tranquilizing or killing it," Patel added.

A local warned, "If the animal attacks again, we will be forced to kill it as a mad wolf cannot be controlled."