THE FOREST department officials have said the dead leopard found in Aarey Colony might have had got stuck in a snare, meant for other animals. The decomposing carcass of a six-year old female leopard was found on Saturday in Aarey Colony by BMC officials who were in the area to count trees for the tree census.
“The incident occurred at least 15 to 20 days ago. The leopard had got stuck in a snare, laid by unidentified persons, to trap other animals. It does not appear to be a case of leopard poaching, since despite the carcass lying here for over two weeks, the leopard’s body parts, including its nails, tail and skin, are still at the spot,” said a forest department official.
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According to a forest official, the carcass was found on a private land in Aarey Colony, within the compound of a veterinary college. “A wall had been constructed around the college premises. Inside it, an area of at least 300 to 400 metres has a lot of natural vegetation, crawlers and other trees. The incident occurred at a spot with thick foliage and no human habitat around. This could have been the reason why it did not come to anyone’s notice,” said the forest official.
A case has been registered against unknown persons and an investigation is on. The carcass has been sent for a postmortem and a report is awaited, according to officials.
Researchers have identified the carcass to be that of Chandni, a female leopard which had previously sustained an injury due to another snare. “Her claws had been injured in a previous incident when we had last traced her. Our volunteers had managed to click photographs of her paw and we realised that the injury was not very serious and she would survive. Last year, we were surprised to see a cub with her when we had set up cameras. Since then, we have been tracing her, but had not seen her in the last two months. We had found snares in the same area last month and alerted the forest officials who had got it removed. Unfortunately, she got stuck in this snare and lost her life,” said Rajesh Sanap, a volunteer, working on leopards.
Another expert said he suspected that the persons who had set up the snare panicked at seeing a leopard in it and fled. Both forest officials and experts stressed on the importance of monitoring and creating awareness to ensure that traps were not set up in areas frequented by wild animals. “There should be a positive human force, students and volunteers, to check the paths taken by animals each weekend,” said Vidya Athreya, Wildlife Biologist.