A two-year-old female leopard which was rescued by the forest department in Meerut on Saturday, died early on Monday as a result of being pinned down by a jaw-trap for over two days without food or water. The leopard was named ‘Khurki’, after the local word for the trap that clung to her right-front paw, which eventually led to her death.
The post mortem report of the animal announced that it died of ‘severe dehydration and starvation’.
The leopard had strayed into Amarsingpur village, 35 km from Meerut and was caught in the trap there. It was found on Saturday morning by locals. By evening, Khurki was saved by a forest department team armed with nothing but a net and their bare hands.
While Khurki’s death was tragic, experts said her capture provided the answer to a riddle that had been troubling them. While the heavily populated Meerut has been relatively unaffected by leopards in the last decade, in the past two months alone, three leopards have been spotted in the district. On February 13, a female leopard was found Jharoda village with its leg caught in a jaw-trap and on February 23 a male leopard entered Meerut Cantonment, injured at least six people and eventually escaped.
It is now believed that the leopards getting caught in the jaw-traps makes them more likely to come into contact with humans. “Jaw-traps are becoming increasingly prevalent. They’re usually left aside for animals that destroy crops, but animals like leopards who would usually slink away at dawn, without harming livestock or humans — are now coming into direct conflict with man,” said Mayukh Chatterjee from the Wildlife trust of India. In this case too, Khurki failed to leave the crop fields to safer hiding spots, and was eventually detected.
False cases play havoc with the crime statistics and tend to trivialise the offence of rape.