A four-year-old male leopard, which had strayed into the farms at Jambal Bassi village in Dehra area, nearly 65 km from here, died of suffocation on Monday after he was trapped in a snare made of clutch wire.
Sources said the leopard fell into a trap set up by poachers to ensnare wild boars and other animals that have descended to low-lying areas due to heavy snowfall in the higher reaches of Kangra Valley. The locals found the leopard struggling to extricate itself from the trap on Monday morning, and alerted the forest department.
Dehra divisional forest officer (DFO) JC Katoch said the leopard was trapped in the wee hours of Monday.
"The trap, set up along the fence of a farm, was supposedly intended to ensnare wild boars," said Katoch, adding that when the leopard tried to extricate itself from the trap, the grip around its stomach and hindlimbs tightened, resulting in complete halting of blood flow and suffocation.
Katoch said a team of forest officials from Dehra was rushed to the spot, while a rescue team was summoned, which arrived at around noon. "The rescue team tried to tranquilise the wild cat, but the first dart failed because of the lack of blood circulation in the hindlimbs," said Katoch.
He said the team then shot another dart at his forelimbs, which worked. "However, the animal died when it was being taken to Gopalpur zoo in Kangra for treatment," said Katoch.
"On the first look, the animal died of suffocation. However, the exact cause of death would be known after getting the postmortem report," he said, adding that following the standard procedure, the leopard's remains were cremated nearby, and an FIR was registered against unknown persons.
The activities of poachers increase in the Valley in winter season, as animals come down to the low-lying areas due to snowfall in the higher reaches.
Recently, poachers in the Nurpur area had fired at a girl, who had gone to the forest with her mother to collect fodder, leaving her seriously injured.
In spite of strict laws and claims of several measures, forest department authorities have failed to curb incidences of illegal poaching in the Valley.