Insecticide poisoning behind deaths of 3 leopards: Autopsy - Hindustan Times
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Insecticide poisoning behind deaths of 3 leopards: Autopsy

By, Shimla
Apr 12, 2024 07:38 AM IST

Initially, it was believed that poachers used the poison to kill the leopards and 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 Bushar police station

Almost a month after three leopards were found dead in the interiors of Rampur Bushar in Shimla district, the autopsy conducted by the forest department has confirmed that the felines died due to insecticide poisoning. Police have launched an investigation to ascertain whether or not poachers poisoned the animals. According to the information, a calf’s carcass was also found in the area and there is a possibility that the felines died after consuming the calf.

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

On March 8, a two-year-old leopard and her two cubs, eight-months-old, were found dead in an orchard in Janguni village, along with the carcass of a calf.

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Initially, it was believed that poachers used the poison to kill the leopards and 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 Bushar police station. Police had 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. It will be investigated if this could be the handiwork of the poachers. There is also a possibility that the calf had consumed the insecticide,” said Rampur deputy superintendent of police Naresh Sharma.

“We are trying to find out whether the animal died after eating the carcass or the poachers had put insecticide on the carcass to deliberately kill the leopards. The felines often cause panic among the locals,” he added.

“ We received the viscera report from forensic laboratory Junga, which confirmed the poisoning. We had sent nine samples but only two had traces of the poisoning. Interestingly, viscera of the calf did not confirm poisoning. The field staff is also trying to gather more information from the locals,” said Rampur divisional forest officer Hardev Negi.

“At times, people use insecticides that have a slow effect. It is a common practice. Leopard tends to return to its prey, even for days after killing it. There have been instances where rat poison is used to kill the wild animals. Rat poisons are designed to work slowly in their target species so that they ingest lethal doses,” said veterinarian Sandeep Rattan. “In this case, some one could have spread the insecticide on the carcass or the prey might have have died after consuming poison,” he said.

Local conservationists said if the leopard had been poisoned, it was most likely from the fallout from negative human-animal interactions in the region over the last two months, where two people had died and three suffered injuries due to an injured leopard attacking people in the region..

“It is common that poachers use poison to kill the leopards,” said Rajeshwar Negi, an animal rights activist.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Gaurav Bisht heads Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.

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