Wildlife & Biodiversity

Carcass of leopard found in a reservoir in Odisha

Forest officer says six-feet-long male leopard may have choked on fishing nets in deep waters

By Ashis Senapati
Published: Wednesday 16 January 2019

The carcass of a six-feet-long male leopard was found floating in the Rengali reservoir under Khamara forest range in Odisha’s Angul district on January 16, 2019.   

“Forest officials retrieved the floating carcass from the water. We suspect that the leopard choked on fishing nets in the deep waters of the river. We will know the exact reason of death only after we receive the autopsy report,” says Ramakanta Sethi, forest range officer of Khamara forest range.

Leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Over the past 10 years, around 150 leopards have been poached across Odisha. Leopards are targeted by poachers for their expensive hides and other body parts.

The rise in poaching cases is also indicative of increasing demand in the international illegal trade market, says noted environmentalist and the secretary of Wildlife Society of Odisha, Biswajit Mohanty.

The illicit international demand for big cat skins along with the trade in bones and other parts for use in traditional oriental medicine, continues to be the main reason for the unrelenting poaching of these endangered cats.

At least 260 leopards were poached in the country between 2015 and 2018, as per information provided in Parliament by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in December 2018, adds Mohanty.

Four cases of seizure of hides, skulls and claws of leopards were reported within three years in Odisha. On August 11, 2017, a leopard hide was seized from two poachers at Bisoi village in Mayurbhanj district.  On October 31, 2017, another leopard hide was seized near Dangadhi village within Similipal forest in Mayurbhanj district. 

On January 10, 2016, forest officials arrested two poachers on charges of transporting leopard hide in Malkangiri district. Officials of Athagarh wildlife division in Cuttack district had arrested a poacher and seized leopard skin on November 26, 2018, adds Mohanty.

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