MP: Death of ‘rescued’ leopard kicks up controversy

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Sagar
  • Updated: Jan 10, 2016 21:48 IST
The forest officials have attributed the animal’s death to the serious injuries it sustained when it was caught in the thorny trap for around 48 hours. (Pic for representation)

Death of a five-year-old leopard that was rescued on Saturday evening from a trap in Badamalehra forests of Chhatarpur district has kicked up a controversy with wildlife enthusiasts accusing the forest department officials of administrating an excessive dose of sedative to tranquillise the animal. They have demanded a high-level inquiry into the matter.

The forest officials, however, have attributed the animal’s death to the serious injuries it sustained when it was caught in the thorny trap for around 48 hours.

On Saturday morning, a forest department team found the male leopard caught in a trap placed by farmers around their fields while they were returning from patrolling the Darguwha beat near the Sukku river. The trap was made of thorny bushes and wire.

The officials called a team from the Panna National Park, including veterinarian Dr SK Gupta, who tranquillised the leopard and removed him from the trap. The leopard, however, died while it was being taken to be released into the jungle by the forest department team.

Chief conservator of forests (CCF), Chhatarpur, LS Rawat, told HT that the leopard was rescued from the trap after being tranquillised, but died on Saturday night “due to an injury sustained from a wire used in the trap.”

“We have sent the carcass for post mortem and the exact cause of death will clear once the report comes,” he said.

He added the trap seemed to have been set up by local farmers and not by professional poachers. “Investigations are on and the guilty will be arrested soon,” he said.

A Chhatarpur-based non-governmental organisation, however, claimed it was a “death due to overdose of tranquilliser.”

Social Media Foundation, an NGO run by retired forest officer, RK Thapak, demanded that a high-level inquiry into the leopard’s death. “On Saturday evening, after the feline was rescued, the forest team had told media that the animal was fine and did not have any serious injuries. They also told reporters that the animal would be released into the jungle on the same day. Later they claimed that the leopard died due to serious injuries, which is suspicious,” Thapak said. Overdose of sedative cannot be ruled out, he added.

Carcass of a three-year-old tigress was found hidden under stones near Pench Tiger Reserve in eastern part of Chhindwara district on Saturday. The tiger had died due to electrocution after it touched an electrified fence set up by villagers to protect their cattle from wild animals.

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