Radio-collared leopard found dead and hanging from a tree

The feline died of natural causes, say dept officials

Radio-collared leopard found dead and hanging from a tree

A radio-collared leopard was found dead and hanging from atop a tree, at S Kallahalli village, Mysore taluk, here on Friday. Following a post-mortem of the animal at Aranya Bhavan in the city, officials of Forest department suspect that the leopard died of natural causes.

However, samples from the carcass have been sent to Veterinary Laboratory at Taranahalli in the city, to ascertain whether the animal was poisoned.

The leopard was a female and was about four years of age. Data available also shows that the feline attempted to return back to its home territory, after it was translocated and shifted in January 2014.

According to Deputy Conservator of Forests, V Karikalan, the leopard was first captured on March 21, 2014 at Anekatte village in H D Kote taluk. It was then radio-collared and released in the wild at Anechowkur Forest Range inside Nagarahole National Park.

The feline soon moved from Anechowkur to Nanjangud region and was present in the area for about a month, according to tracking details obtained from the radio collar.

After sometime, the feline settled at Malleshwaram Hill, near Maddur in H D Kote taluk. However, radio collar installed on the animal stopped working two months ago, and the department had lost track of the feline.

It can be noted that the Human-Leopard Conflict Guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, recommends to avoid translocation of animals. “Leopards are highly adaptable animals, and exhibit amazing homing instincts.

A translocated leopard trying to navigate to its home territory through a dense human landscape may lead to increased incidences of conflicts rather than reducing the same. Therefore, it is best to avoid translocation,” the guidelines state.

Karikalan said that the animal was not translocated, and that it was just “captured and released”. “Translocation is capturing and releasing animals in different habitats. In the case of this leopard, we had trapped it as it came out of the forest and released back into the wild. The habitat was also same, dry deciduous forest. Therefore, it was not translocation,” he said.

Found hanging

He said that the leopard was found hanging, as one of its hind legs was entangled between the branches. “The feline had no external injuries. However, during post-mortem, serious abscessions were found near the heart and liver of the animal. Granules of fat like material was also found. We suspect that the animal has died of a bacterial infection,” he said.

Responding to questions on whether locals killed the leopard and tied the feline to the tree, Karikalan said that there was no indication of assault on the animal, as there were no external injuries. “Moreover, the scratch marks found atop the tree also shows that the feline struggled a bit prior to its death,” he said.

Sanjay Gubbi, wildlife scientist at Nature Conservation Foundation, whose organisation had radio-collared the leopard, said that there was no relation between radio-collaring and death of the leopard. “It is due to the radio-collar we have been successful in identifying the animal and tracking its movement for six months,” he said.

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