COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan police on Sunday arrested two men accused of beating a leopard to death in an attack caught on video and widely condemned by wildlife activists.
The two were among a group of more than a dozen villagers who beat the animal to death with clubs on Thursday after it reportedly attacked and injured at least 10 people in a village in the northern district of Kilinochchi, about 340 kilometers (211 miles) from Colombo, the capital, said police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara.
The villagers’ attack of the big cat was filmed, apparently by cellphones, and shown on local and social media, drawing condemnation from officials and animal rights activists.
Gunasekara said the two suspects were arrested on Sunday and were remanded until June 29. He said police investigators were examining the videos to track down other suspects.
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Sri Lankan leopards are an endemic subspecies and are also on the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Endangered Species.
Killing or harming leopards is a punishable offense in Sri Lanka. If found guilty, the suspects could face two to five years in prison.