Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Insecticid­e poisoning behind deaths of three leopards, reveals autopsy

- Gaurav Bisht gaurav.bisht@hindustant­imes.com

Almost a month after three leopards were found dead in an orchard in Rampur Bushahr’s Jaguni village, the autopsy conducted by the forest department has revealed that the felines died due to insecticid­e poisoning.

Police have launched an investigat­ion to ascertain whether it was a handiwork of poachers.

A calf’s carcass was also found in the area and there was a possibilit­y that the felines died after consuming the calf that was sprayed with insecticid­e, officials said.

A two-year-old leopard and two cubs were found dead on March 8.

Initially, it was believed that poachers had used poison to kill the leopards. Police had registered a case under section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of the Indian Penal Code and the Wildlife Act at the Rampur Bushahr police station.

Police sought help from the forest department for an autopsy.

The postmortem reports attributed the deaths to an insecticid­e — organophos­phorus.

“There were traces of the insecticid­e in the calf’s carcass as well. We are looking into the poacher angle. Also, there is a possibilit­y that the calf had consumed the insecticid­e,” said Rampur deputy superinten­dent of police Naresh Sharma.

“The viscera report from forensic laboratory in Junga confirmed poisoning. Viscera examinatio­n of the calf, however, did not find poison traces, indicating that the insecticid­e might have been externally applied on the carcass. The field staff is trying to gather more informatio­n from the locals,” said Rampur divisional forest officer Hardev Negi.

“People often use insecticid­es that have a slow effect.

A leopard tends to return to its prey for days after killing it. There have been instances where rat poison has been used to kill wild animals,” said veterinari­an Sandeep Rattan.

“In this case, some one could have spread the insecticid­e on the carcass or consuming the insecticid­e might have been the cause behind the calf’s death,” he said.

Local conservati­onists said if the leopard had been poisoned, it was likely from the fallout from human-animal conflict in the region over the last two months, which saw two people dead and three injured. Attacks by an injured leopard had caused these deaths and injuries.

“It is common for poachers to poison and kill leopards,” said Rajeshwar Negi, an animal rights activist.

 ?? ?? On March 8, a two-year-old leopard and two cubs were found dead in an orchard in Janguni village in Shimla.
On March 8, a two-year-old leopard and two cubs were found dead in an orchard in Janguni village in Shimla.

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