Poachers set ablaze leopard den to hunt big cat,forest guns still shooting in dark

Top forest officials are grappling in the dark over killing of a leopard. What has baffled the officials is the method adopted by the poachers,which according to them is unusual and noticed for the first time in the state.

Written by Hitarthpandya | Vadodara/surat | Published:February 20, 2009 1:27 am

Top forest officials are grappling in the dark over killing of a leopard. What has baffled the officials is the method adopted by the poachers,which according to them is unusual and noticed for the first time in the state.

The den of the full-grown leopard,according to forest officials,at Silvasa Wildlife Sanctuary was set on fire with the help of firewood and after the big cat died of suffocation,its body was taken using the noose of shrubs. Later the poachers took out the leopard’s canines,nails and other body organs.

Even as investigation has been initiated in the incident,the officials are not sure whether it was locals or some outsiders who are behind this act. Several unanswered questions remain as to how a leopard,an agile animal,could remain inactive while wood stocks were being kept on the mouth of the den and why only the animal’s nail and teeth were removed leaving the skin intact,which normally fetches higher price in the illegal market.

A case has already been filed under Sections 9,15,27 and 29 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972,said officials.

Importantly,this is the first-ever incident of leopard killing reported in the region and that too for canines and nails,said top forest officials. The incident,according to Silvasa forest officials,happened between Tuesday and Wednesday evening near Dungripada village of Silvasa,part of Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

Speaking to Newsline,Deputy Conservator of Forest (Silvasa),Virendra Chaudhari,said,“We are completely surprised at the incident. It has not only exposed the chinks in the patrolling taken up by our staff but it has also raised several questions related to leopard.

“We have no idea whether it was the job done by one person,a group,an outsider or locals. We have started questioning local people to get some clue. We are also going to announce cash rewards for the informer in this connection,” he said.

The veterinary doctor,Vijaysinh Parmar,who conducted the postmortem of the animal,said,“Though we could not take organs samples for viscera,the prima-facie evidence suggests the animal died of suffocation. The accused had taken out the animal’s organs after it died.”

“Several aspects of the incident need to be considered like the accused had used creepers to make noose and fetch the body from the den. Secondly,they had taken out four canine teeth,while the skin was intact,” said Chaudhary.

He said they are going to submit the preliminary investigation report soon. “Also,I have checked the records but there is no mention of [any such incident in the past,” he said.

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