Nagpur: A two-year-old female leopard was shot dead and all its four paws chopped, in Gothangaon range under Gondia forest division. The incident occurred on the night of December 15.
With this latest death, Maharashtra has recorded 77 leopard deaths this year to date. Last year, the death toll was 86. Nationally, there is a spurt in poaching of leopards as 66 leopards were poached till October. Uttarakhand (15) and Madhya Pradesh (13) topped the chart in deaths due to poaching.
This seems to be an unusual case of poaching by a gang of unorganized local poachers regularly involved in hunting herbivores for meat. The poachers are absconding and forest officials are clueless.
Gondia deputy conservator of forests (DyCF) Yuvraj S confirmed three bullets hit the leopard and all four paws were cut for its claws. “For the past two days, we are using a dog squad but it has so far failed to trace the offenders. Police help is also being taken. The samples of bullet pieces and other organs are being sent to Regional Forensic Science Laboratory (RFSL) in Nagpur,” he said.
“The Tukum Narayan village where the carcass of the leopardess was dumped is a reserve forest, 22km from Navegaon National Park. It is a dense forest patch falling between Nagzira-Navegaon Tiger Reserve (NNTR) wildlife corridor,” said investigating officials.
“There is a regular movement of wild animals and it is likely such killings may be going unnoticed by the territorial staff who don’t stay at their headquarters after evening hours,” said members of local NGOs working for wildlife.
They also said the carnivore is suspected to have been killed elsewhere and the carcass brought on a two-wheeler and dumped near the village ostensibly to destroy evidence.
“There were no blood stains near the spot where the carnivore was dumped. It seems to be the handiwork of professional shooters and poachers as the paws were cut with sharpness and bullets too was hit perfectly in head, shoulder, and jaw, killing the animal instantly,” they told TOI.
Date: 18 Dec 2018