A mother leopard and her two cubs were found dead in Belavadi Industrial Area, about 12 km from Mysuru city in Karnataka on Saturday morning. Forest officials who conducted a necropsy on the carcasses suspect that the deaths could be due to suspected poisoning by unknown persons. To ascertain the exact cause of death of the leopard family, forest officials have sent samples of the carcasses to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Bengaluru for further tests. Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF), Mysuru, Prashanth Kumar, who visited the spot, told The News Minute that the mother leopard was about 5-years-old while her cubs were around a year old. He added that, ‚ÄúIt is a clear case of unnatural death of a leopard family and only lab tests will ascertain the exact cause of the death.‚ÄĚ
In the vicinity of the carcasses, Prashanth Kumar said that they came across a half eaten carcass of a dog on which the mother leopard and her cubs might have fed. The DCF suspected that unidentified persons might have mixed poison in the dog carcass and lured the leopards to feast on it, which killed them. A case has been registered under relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act and a search is on to trace the persons allegedly responsible for the killings.
Police have already pressed a sniffer dog to track the miscreants while forest officials will be bringing in sniffer dog ‚ÄėRana‚Äô, adept in detecting wildlife crimes, to trace persons connected with the death of the leopard and her cubs in Belavadi. While the motive behind the killings is being probed, the DCF made it clear that ‚ÄúThere were no reports of cattle kills or attack on humans in Belavadi village region by leopards.‚ÄĚ In and around Mysuru city, leopards are often sighted in Bogadi, Rajareshwari Nagar, BEML Layout and adjoining residential areas. Belavadi and Hootagalli Industrial Areas have vegetative cover, providing a habitat for leopards.
A few days ago, a video clip of a mother leopard and her three cubs crossing railings at an industrial unit in Hootagalli Industrial Area went viral. The two-and-a-half minute video shot by a passerby showed the mother leopard and her cubs walking by the road before they climbed an iron railing to disappear in the cover of darkness. DCF Prashanth Kumar clarified that both of these leopard families were different ones. ‚ÄúThe poisoned leopard family in Belavadi is not that which was sighted in BEML vicinity a couple of days ago.‚ÄĚ
A couple of months ago, CCTV footage from an apartment showed a leopard entering the premises and snatching a dog on the outskirts of Mysuru city. Similar incidents of leopard movements have been reported in Bogadi.
In a similar incident in September 2019, a mother leopard and her two cubs were killed by unidentified people at Hallare village in Nanjangud taluk of Mysuru district. In the Hallare incident too, some unknown village residents had mixed poison in a dog carcass, following which the mother leopard and her two cubs feasted on the carcass and died. The carcasses were discovered in some fields. Regarding the Hallare killings, Prashanth Kumar said, ‚ÄúNo arrests were made since the investigating officer could not gather leads to nab the accused.‚ÄĚ
In Chitradurga district in July 2019, a mob of village residents belonging to Kurubarahalli in Hosadurga taluk attacked and killed a leopard with sticks and cubs. The leopard had strayed into a plantation, when it was attacked, leading to its death. In another incident, poachers shot dead a leopard in a field in Hassan in August 2018, and forest officials attributed the killing of the leopard to the fact that someone might have fired at the leopard thinking it to be a wild boar.
Many leopards in different parts of the state have been victims of road kills in Hassan, Tumakuru, Chikkamagaluru and other parts of the state, and snaring incidents have also been reported.
Girisha is a freelancer who writes on forests and wildlife.