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Escaped leopard kills young girl in Giza
Courtesy: Steve Garvie

Tougher security measures have been imposed on a ranch for predatory animals after a leopard escaped from its enclosure and mauled a young girl to death on Monday.

According to the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, following the deadly attack in the Ayat district of Giza prosecutors issued an order for one of the ranch owners to be remanded into custody on charges of wrongful death. They will remain detained for four days pending investigation. Prosecutors are scheduled to decide whether to extend the period of detention on Thursday.

Al-Ahram reported that police investigators are currently accusing the defendant of negligence and implementing insufficient safety measures at the ranch.

According to eyewitness accounts the leopard escaped and crossed several fences from the farm where it was kept, jumping into a nearby garden where it attacked the young girl, biting through her neck. Different media reports place her age somewhere between nine and 12 years old. Police confirmed the presence of deep lacerations on her body.

The Giza Security Directorate dispatched officers to the scene of the incident after receiving reports that the leopard was loose in the village of Kafr Hemeid, where Police shot it dead after spotting it in a tree, according to Al-Ahram.

The owners of the ranch, which is said to have been officially licensed by the Ministry of Agriculture, were raising a large number of predatory creatures, including lions, tigers and snakes.

The official website of the Ministry of Agriculture reported on Wednesday that a team of veterinarians affiliated to the ministry had conducted investigations, classifying the animal which escaped as a three to four-year-old male African leopard.

The ministry also reported that Ayat prosecutors ordered the formation of a specialized veterinary committee to tally and classify the remaining predatory animals according to their species. The privately owned Sada al-Balad news portal reported that the inventory rincluded two lions, three hyenas, four monkeys and several porcupines along with eight tigers and leopards. Among them were several rare species, including the escaped leopard.

Animals raised at ranches like this are primarily for export to customers in other countries, however there are also local buyers such as the Africano Park in Alexandria.

According to several local media outlets, prosecutors ordered the deployment of additional security forces around the ranch in order to ensure that no other predatory animals escaped. Angry locals are also reported to have amassed around the farm following Monday’s incident.

Quoting animal rights activist Dina Zulfaqar, the privately-owned Al-Watan news portal reported that leopards are wild and predatory animals which “should not be raised in captivity,” particularly not in a facility that is “unqualified to accommodate such wild animals.”