Authorities in Gorkha are worried about a surge in wildlife deaths in the district amid the nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Division Forest Office, Gorkha, has found four leopards, two barking deer and a wild cat dead in various parts of the district in the past two months. Two leopard cubs separated from their mother, however, were rescued safely.
On Sunday, an adult female leopard was found dead at Ward No. 9 of Palungtar Municipality. Toyanath Paudel, chief at the forest office, said that the leopard was found dead in a deserted house in the settlement. “We were informed in the morning that the leopard was alive, but it was already dead when a rescue team reached there. Its excreta and vomit were recovered from the site. There were not any injuries in the body,” said Paudel.
The forest office suspects that the leopard was poisoned. According to Paudel, the carcass was sent to the National Trust for Nature Conservation office in Sauraha, Chitwan, for a postmortem.
Another leopard was found dead near Dhakaltari Community Forest at Ward No. 2 in the same municipality three days ago. The forest office said that the leopard had died due to natural causes. Two weeks ago, animal herders had killed a leopard in Ward No. 4 in Palungtar after the big cat attacked them.
“Four leopards have been found dead during the lockdown. Three bodies have been buried. The death of one or two animals is suspicious and an investigation is underway. We will take action as per the existing legal provisions if anyone is found in killing the wildlife,” said Paudel.
Two leopard cubs, separated from their mother, were rescued from Ratdanda of Palungtar-10 days ago. Forest office staffers released the rescued cubs at a cave in the nearby forest.
Similarly, a barking deer was found dead in Siranchok in the district a week ago. Locals informed the forest office after they spotted the dead deer.
Meanwhile, police arrested seven persons on charge of killing another barking deer at Siurenitar in Gandaki Rural Municipality on May 10. They were caught red-handed with the remains of the deer. The investigation is underway into the case after taking the suspects into custody, said the forest office. Likewise, a wild cat was found dead in Baluwa some two weeks ago.
With a surge in wildlife deaths, forest officials say they have increased vigilance and are taking necessary initiatives to protect wild animals. “We are looking into possible human-animal conflict. The investigation will look into all animal deaths that have occurred during the lockdown period,” said Paudel.
Poaching of various wild animals and birds has gone unchecked in several districts in the recent time. Poachers have become active taking advantage of poor security during the nationwide lockdown.