The highly toxic carbofuran is being used to kill leopards in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand, the same pesticide used to poach tigers in and around Corbett Tiger Reserve (CTR).
The suspicions of the state forest department have been confirmed by confessions of a poacher who was arrested recently. A pesticide, carbofuran is used to control insects and bird population causing threat to agriculture fields. It is now banned in US, Canada and European Union countries but sold over the counter in India under different brand names.
“One of the poachers nabbed last week confessed of having used carbofuran for killing leopards. We recovered two leopard skins from two people. The leopards were killed about 2 years ago,” said Brijmohan Dobriyal, sub-divisional officer (SDO), Yamuna forest circle Uttarkashi’s Badkot.
In its July 29 edition, Hindustan Times had reported the used on carbofuran – available under a certain brand name – to kill at least three tigers in and around CTR in the month of May end. An investigating team comprising chief conservator of forest (CCF) Kumaon, Paramjit Singh, deputy director Lucknow zoo, Utkarsh Shukla and NGO Effect representative, Dr Abhishekh Kumar had suspected use of carbofuran in the tiger killings.
The forests of Uttarakhand are a rich treasure house of exotic animals and the Corbett National Park – named after the famous British hunter-conservationist Jim Corbett – is one of the most well-maintained tiger reserves in the country.