Wildlife officials are probing whether a leopard found dead near Shimla on Friday morning was shot, after traces of gunpowder were found on its body during the post-mortem. The animal was initially believed to have been killed in a clash with another animal.
The male leopard, aged around two to three years, was found dead on a road at Neri village near Hiranagar in the Taradevi forest range at around 8 am on Friday. Wildlife officials who reached the spot were told by area residents that they had been hearing grunts and growls for the last three hours in what sounded like two animals fighting each other.
Officials found no bullet or pellet injuries on the body of the leopard, but it had wounds on its neck. “Based on what witnesses said, we initially suspected that a rival leopard killed him since it was also quite young and had what looked like claw injuries. But an autopsy and forensic examination revealed traces of gunpowder on the neck. Since no bullet/pellet was found, it could have been a graze wound,” said an official.
Following the fresh finding, two teams of wildlife officials were sent back to Neri to look for empty cartridges, pellets or any other indication of a shooting.