Kerala

Leopard killing: illegal wildlife trade suspected

The gang that trapped a leopard and killed it at Viripara, near Mankulam, is suspected to have close links with an inter-State gang involved in illegal wildlife trade.

Forest officials arrested five persons on Friday on the charge of trapping and killing the animal. They also seized the skin, nails, and bones of the six-year-old leopard from a house where the accused had cooked and eaten it. Those arrested were identified as Mankulam residents Vinod, Kuriakose, Binu, Sali, and Vincent.

Trapped on Wednesday

A forest official said the area where the snare was set up was known for constant movement of wildlife, including leopards and tigers. The animal was watched at least for 15 days to set up the snare and it was trapped on Wednesday. It was moved to a house where it was killed and the meat cooked.

The skin, nails, teeth, and bones were carefully removed to sell them in the illegal wildlife market, which is said to be active across the border. The way in which the skin was removed indicated that the gang was careful not to damage it as to claim maximum price in the market.

Mankulam range officer V.B. Udayasooryan said the gang might have hunted animals earlier and it was evident that the leopard was trapped not for meat.

The accused had cooked only a small portion of the meat just to taste it. They used only the meat from the thigh and the rest was was thrown into a nearby river. The motive of hunting the leopard was to sell its skin, nails and bones.

The animal weighed around 50 kg and the accused carefully kept the body parts in the house. A probe was on into the contacts of the accused, he said.

The nails and teeth are in demand in jewellery shops as they are used in lockets.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 2:55:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/leopard-killing-illegal-wildlife-trade-suspected/article33645894.ece

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