Exactly a year after four dead leopards were found in and around a private golf club in Gurgaon, the wildlife department has filed a case against seven employees, including the CEO of ITC Classic Golf and Country Club for hunting the animals.
Officials from the wildlife department informed the special environment court of Faridabad that they found leopard fur (confirmed at a forensic lab) inside the golf club. A case has been filed under sections 9, 52, 57, 58 and 39 of the wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. The date for first hearing is scheduled on May 6.
“As per the Act, once the case is filed and there is proof of possession of the animal, then the burden of proving innocence lies on the accused,” said an official from the wildlife department.
Section 9 relates to hunting, which includes capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring, and trapping any wild animal and every attempt to do so.
It prohibits hunting of any wild animal specified in Schedules 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Act. Any person who hunts any wild animal shall be punishable with imprisonment for up to three years or with fine up to Rs. 25,000 or both.
The spokesperson of the ITC Classic Golf and Country Club said, “Our resort is in complete compliance. Information of the body had been shared with the concerned authorities immediately after being spotted following which the matter has been with them.”
The ITC classic golf resort is spread across 300 acres in village Naurangpur, situated in the foothills of the Aravallis, a dense leopard habitat.
Sources from wildlife department said that it is suspected that the leopards were killed as they were being a threat to the guests of the Golf club and may have been reducing its popularity.
In April last year, one leopard was found dead inside the golf course, while three dead leopards were found in the next 10 days during investigation in the vicinity.
Postmortem reports of the first leopard indicated injuries on the body, including a sharp cut on the leg and internal wounds in the neck. There was also indication of a blow with a blunt object.
According to officials at the wildlife department, bite marks were also found on the body. The department has concluded that the leopard has succumbed to its injuries.
The bodies of the other three leopards were found partially decomposed and no tests could be performed on them.