Mumbai: Poachers snare second leopard in three months

The carcass — with all the claws missing — was found yesterday in Film City by the BMC-hired team on tree census duty; similar discovery was made in Aarey Milk Colony in March

In a clear-cut case of poaching — the second in three months — a team of BMC-hired professionals, undertaking a tree census in Film City, discovered the decomposed body of an adult leopard last afternoon. A closer inspection revealed that the animal was snared and all the claws were missing.

A team of officers from the Forest Department inspect the carcass
A team of officers from the Forest Department inspect the carcass

Botanist Anil Rajbhar and his team from SAAR IT Resources found the carcass in the forested patch near the sets of Marathi serial ‘Jai Malhar’. The stench emanating from a nearby dry stream had caught their attention, thus leading to the discovery of the carcass. “Our team had spotted a leopard carcass in Aarey as well. Initially, it was mistaken for that of a dog’s. But a closer inspection revealed that it was a leopard, with a wire snare around its body.”

The decomposed body with the wire snare (circled) around it
The decomposed body with the wire snare (circled) around it

As per the information shared by one of the forest officers, the big cat had died of strangulation. The officer added that poachers are using regular brake wires to make snares and trap wild animals. “In March, a similar case was discovered inside Aarey and the same modus operandi was implemented to kill the leopard. In February, volunteers working with the forest department recovered wire snares from Aarey that were allegedly installed by the poachers.”

Who’s guilty?
Besides highlighting the poacher menace, the recent killing has also raised questions about the quality of patrolling undertaken by the forest officers. Also, with poachers operating freely across SGNP, Aarey and Film City, the future of the 35 leopards, whose territories fall in these areas, appears bleak.

While all the officers refused to comment on the alleged involvement of the locals, Kishor Thakare, assistant conservator of forests (Thane-territorial), and other high-ranking officers reached the spot immediately after learning about the incident.

Wildlife warden of Mumbai (Honorary) and Member of State Wildlife Board Mayur Kamath said, “This is a clear case of poaching, as a wire snare has been used to trap the animal. What lays even the slightest suspicion to rest are the missing claws. It is difficult to digest that none of those working on the set of the TV show, which is hardly 200 m away, heard a leopard’s painful growls after it was trapped.”

Previous incidents
>> January 2016: A person was arrested from Dombivli for selling leopard skin and bones

>> December 2015: A leopard carcass was found near the Shilonda trail in SGNP, which the officials believed to be a case of poaching. Autopsy revealed an old injury and punctured internal organs.

>> November 2015: A decomposed body of a leopard was found in the Yeoor range of SGNP.

>> 2013: Four people were arrested for allegedly trying to sell a leopard skin outside SGNP main gate.

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