A young female leopard, that was illegally trapped in an iron cage placed by the Haryana Wildlife Department officials at a private farmhouse in Raiseena village at Aravali Hills on Sunday, was set free in the jungle after initial treatment.
The late night action came after the Haryana Minister for Forest and Environment Captain (Retd.) Ajay Singh Yadav ordered that a criminal case should be filed against the wildlife officials as well as the farmhouse owners.
As the Gurgaon Police moved to initiate investigation into the case on Monday, the blame game followed. The sub inspector of the wildlife department claimed innocence and instead accused the farmhouse owner of stealing the iron cage from his office for trapping the leopard. The farmhouse owner Dr. Ajit Gupta said that the cage was placed at the farmhouse by the wildlife officials on the request of his staffers as a leopard had killed a dog a few days back, JCP Alok Mittal said.
The JCP said that he had ordered a probe into the case and an FIR would be filed against the accused only after the investigation report was submitted with him.
The Haryana Wildlife Department officials have written to the senior officials to suspend the services of the sub inspector of their department Kanwal Pal for illegally mounting the cage to trap the leopard.
Immediately after getting information that the leopard has been trapped, the wildlife department officials had rushed to the spot and hurriedly moved the injured animal to an unknown destination in the name of offering treatment. The leopard had been hurt as he hit his head against the iron bars of the cage before the wildlife officials reached the spot.
However, the owners of the nearby farmhouses and wildlife activists had alleged that the developers and wildlife officials conspired to illegally remove the leopards from the Aravali Hills to check the realty prices from falling because of the fear of leopards in the area. In March 2008, a leopard was trapped in a similar fashion at a farmhouse and relocated to an unknown destination in the name of treatment.
Chief Wildlife Warden Dr. Parvez Ahamad said: "The matter is under investigation." Wildlife Conservator Sahtyabhan, who escorted the injured leopard, refused to comment on the matter.
Yoginder Yadav, a farmhouse owner in the neighbourhood, said that a female leopard was trapped in the cage at about 3 am and a male leopard and three cubs kept sitting around the cage till morning.
Ashok Kumar, vice-chairman of the Wildlife Trust of India, also objected to the way the injured leopard was transported. "The wildlife department is ill-equipped to transport the injured animals. They should have given the treatment to the leopard on the spot," Kumar said.