Leopard, Chased for Selfies, Drops Dead; Third Big Cat Death Since Jan. 1

Hyderabad: Telangana’s big cats seem to be faring poorly since the advent of the New Year, with a third death, this time of a leopard in Narayanpet district, recorded since January 1. Forest officials said the animal was a young male, who looked visibly ill in videos recorded by locals of Kansanpalli of Damaragidda mandal on Saturday evening, who chased the big cat in a bid to take selfies with it.

Coming soon after two tiger deaths in Komaram Bheem Asifabad district in the first week of January, due to suspected poisoning of cattle kill by locals, the leopard’s death caused concern in conservation circles.

Divisional forest officer Veenavani said that upon being informed about the ailing leopard, a team from the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad was dispatched for its rescue but the leopard died before the team could reach the spot.

Officials said the leopard was chased by people who took videos with their phones and clicked selfies, as the animal appeared to be in a daze and walked slowly, its head bobbing uncontrollably at times.

Zoo veterinarian Dr M.A. Hakeem said a post-mortem examination of the carcass on Sunday did not point to an obvious cause of death and that samples were sent to the Veterinary and Biological Research Institute for analysis, to ascertain the cause of death.

Despite protocols calling for a representative of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to be present during the autopsy of a big cat, this was not the case, sources said.

Earlier in the month, when Asifabad forest officials conducted a post-mortem examination on a sub-adult male tiger that was found dead on January 6, there was no NTCA representative.

Sources said the repeated omission of NTCA needs to be explained by the state forest department.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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