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Leopard found dead on private tea estate near Coonoor, snare suspected

Forest Dept officials said that the nature of injuries on the animal seemed consistent with those sustained in a snare; a case has been booked

In yet another suspected incident of snaring, a leopard was found dead on a private tea estate with injuries, most likely caused when it got trapped in a snare used to trap wild game, near Coonoor on Monday.

The leopard, believed to be a 3-year-old male, was found dead by residents and tea estate workers on Monday. They notified the Forest Department. Following an investigation, and after the completion of a postmortem, it was revealed that the animal had sustained injuries around its neck, which are consistent with injuries found on other wildlife when they get trapped in a snare.

When contacted, Bhosale Sachin Thukkaram, District Forest Officer (Nilgiris division), said that from the nature of the injuries, it seemed likely that the leopard had died from unnatural causes. “We have been unable to find the snare that was used to kill the leopard. Moreover, we do not know if the snare was placed in the area where it was found dead, or whether it managed to escape from the snare and died in the tea estate,” said Mr. Thukkaram.

The Forest Department’s Rapid Response Team is investigating the death and a case has been registered under the Wildlife Protection Act.

TN Environment Secretary, Supriya Sahu, said on Twitter that a case has been booked in Coonoor Range. “Two Forest Teams and the Rapid Response Team is doing combing of the surrounding tea estate and patta lands to find out presence of any snares. Investigation is on.”

Since 2019, leopards, sloth bear, Sambar deer and even tigers have gotten trapped in snares, mostly laid to trap wild game such as black-naped hare and wild boar for meat consumption in the Nilgiris. In the last three years, more than seven cases of animals getting trapped in snares have been reported. Despite efforts by the Forest Department to clamp down on the practice, snaring continues in most parts of the district, with carnivores such as leopards and tigers also falling victims to these traps.

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