The body of a six-year-old leopard was found in the Yeoor range of Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Thane in Sunday. Eight nails from the front paws of the leopard are missing, leading to suspicion over the wildcat's death.
The leopard was a male and had died three days ago as the body had already degraded. It was discovered behind the house of a resident Damodar Patil, by a tribal woman on the evening of April 15.
"We saw the body at 9.30 am on Sunday and saw that eight of its nails from the paws were missing. We decided to send the body for a post mortem to find the cause of death. We are still awaiting the report and only then can we say whether the death was suspicious," said Pradeep Shinde, forester, Thane.
Chances of poaching cannot be ruled out if the nails were cut, experts said, as the nails are used for making artefacts.
Yeoor region has around 20 to 25 leopards. Forest officials claimed this was the first death this year though earlier, too, leopards' bodies with nails or paws missing had been found in this area.
Conservationist Krishna Tiwari of the City Forest Initiative, said, "Last year, a similar leopard body with all its paws chopped off was found in Bhandup. Forest officials should investigate such cases in detail. Young leopards are often victims of miscreants in the forest. A police complaint should be registered if necessary."