Poachers strike, kill two leopards

Two leopards have been found dead at two places in India with forest officials suspecting poaching for selling their nails and skin which command a high price in illegal market.

In the first incident in Maharashtra state, a leopard was found dead in Ghatkukda under Nagalwadi forest range. The leopard was suspected to have died a month ago. Its highly decomposed carcass was found by three forest guards during patrolling in reserve forest on March 9.

A report said that on March 10, senior forest officials visited the spot and found that body parts of the leopard were scattered in a small area. Three legs of the leopard were found at one spot whose one nail each was missing. A cave was also found nearby where leopard hair, and bones were found. They were of view that it was a handiwork of poachers as there are no agriculture fields nearby and a section of villagers are known for their involvement in poaching wild animals.

In the second incident, forest officials seized a leopard skin in Tamil Nadu. They also arrested two men who had hunted the animal near Madurai. The Forest Department was tipped off about some men attempting to sell leopard skin.

Earlier, five people were arrested for trying to trade nails and teeth of the leopard.

Though the men were arrested in Usilampatti, it was found that the leopard was poached in the Srivilliputtur forest range and the case was handed over to that division.

The two confessed that they had hunted the animal in Saptur range in the Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary about three months ago.

They said that the fully-grown leopard was lured by tying a three-month-old calf that belonged to Karuppiah. When the animal left, the men laid a net around it in a move to catch it.

The Srivilliputtur Wildlife Sanctuary is mainly known as Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary. It was established in 1988 to protect the vulnerable grizzled giant squirrel (Ratufa macrora).