After the crime branch arrested 4 persons for selling a leopard’s skin on Monday, wildlife officials are trying to find out if the skin was of a leopard in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
To do this, they are comparing the leopard’s rosetta marks –rose like formations on the hides, unique to each leopard – with those of the park’s leopards using their pictures which were shot on trapped cameras.
“We have sought photographs of the leopard skin from the crime branch. These marks will be matched with that of the 21 leopards living inside SGNP to verify if a leopard from SGNP has been poached,” said Sunil Limaye, director, SGNP.
As part of the ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ and Leopards project, park officials and volunteers had set camera traps inside and around the park to monitor the presence of leopards. These camera traps have clicked around 150 images of leopards from 35 locations.
Mumbaikars for SGNP and Leopards project was started in August 2011 to reduce man-animal conflict in the city and to monitor movement of leopards in and around the park. The method of matching rosette spots has been used to document the leopards and their movements.
According to park officials, the leopard skin recovered by the police is genuine and the poached animal was of medium size. “The leopard skin is neither too old not too new. The animal must have been killed not more than two-three weeks back,” said Limaye.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, leopards are classified as a schedule I species and are accorded highest protection.
‘Did not poach; bought skin for quick buck’
mumbai: The four persons arrested by the crime branch in the recent leopard poaching case told the police that they were not involved in killing the leopard.
According to police, the four claimed that they had just bought the skin for quick money. Raghunath Dalvi, police inspector, unit 11 said the crime branch had not found any more animal skin from the four arrested.
Police are trying to ascertain the manner in which the leopard was killed. The skin has been sent to a forensic laboratory at Kalina.
Meanwhile, the search for the fifth person, suspected to be the key accused, is still on. The four accused – Anup Khaire, 27, Prashant Patel, 26, Tushar Bagwe, 20 and Abhisekh Rane, 23, were arrested while trying to sell leopard skin worth Rs4.5 lakh to a decoy sent by the crime branch.