A snow leopard rescued by wildlife officials from Gue village in Spiti on Saturday is too young to have killed the 43 sheep and goats found dead in the area, officials said.
“It’s a cub aged around six months and its teeth are not developed enough to have killed prey. Perhaps it was accompanied by its mother or some other adult when it entered the livestock shed and got trapped inside. Investigation into the killing of the animals is underway,” a wildlife official said.
The leopard was initially believed to have killed 43 sheep and goats, and was brought to Kufri to be examined.
Between April 28 to May 1, 43 sheep and goats were killed in the area before the cub was rescued from an animal shed.
Veterinarian Dr Sandeep Rattan, who examined the cub said that it is too young to be administered anaesthesia, so it has to be examined from a distance using infrared thermometer and by observing its dietary pattern and behaviour.
“It’s suffering from dehydration and weakness. It moves very less, and also has some injuries on its tail and other parts. But it’s eating well — we’re feeding it chicken and milk. It seems to be recuperating,” he said, adding that the cub is likely to be released back into the wild upon recovery.
Amidst the lockdown, several cases of poaching have been reported from the state in recent weeks, including two incidents involving the hunting of barking deer near Shimla.
Last month, a leopard reportedly killed a three-year-old girl in Anni subdivision of Kullu, while a bear attacked and injured a cattle grazer near Kumarsain in Shimla district.
Wildlife officials said that several wild species have started roaming close to human habitations following the lockdown, and sightings of barking deer, ghoral and some other animals have increased in Shimla and other towns. In Koksar, a brown bear was spotted on a road. “In Shimla, around 60 bird species can be spotted these days,” an official said. He added that monkeys were used to eating from garbage collection points in the town or from people who fed them. “In the absence of leftover food, they are now moving towards the surrounding forests and trying to adapt by eating fruits, nuts and leaves,” he said.