By Ajay Kumar
A shocking video showing a goat tied to a tree to lure local leopards in the Aravalli Hills in Gurgoan has gone viral.
Mail Today has seen this video and two similar ones that show a leopard eating the goat. All three videos had been shot from the same angle and show two similar trees to which the goat was tied.
Villagers said the Aravalli Hills area of Gurgaon boasts about 35-40 leopards, but the rise in the number of dead big cats is worrying them.
They are hinting at a possible poaching racket in the area, though there is no tangible evidence to back the claim.
Rajesh Wats, the R.W.A. president of Aravali Retreat, also confirmed that there were rumours doing the rounds about poaching.
“We have also received complaints from villagers about a goat tied to a tree to lure big cats in one of the farmhouses here.
"As the matter was serious, we lodged a complaint with the wildlife department to investigate it,” Wats said.
The villagers also showed this correspondent photographs of two dead leopards that they claimed were found in January this year.
This takes the total number of dead leopards to seven within the last one year, a number that has raised many eyebrows.
In November last year, the Gurgaon forest department officials found a dead 12-year-old leopard in Sehrawan village on NH-8 near Manesar.
The big cat had many injuries on its body, including multiple injuries to the head and spine.
Though the officials said the cat was probably hit by a heavy vehicle and died due to the injuries sustained, wildlife activists believed there was more to it than that.
That was the fifth leopard found dead last year. Earlier in April 2014, another leopard was found dead under mysterious circumstances in ITC Classic Golf Course.
During the investigation, wildlife department officials had stumbled upon three more leopard carcasses.
However, Kanwar Pal, Inspector of Wildlife (Sohna range), dismissed the poaching angle but confirmed that the department had received a complaint about goats being used as prey to hunt leopards.
“We have been investigating the matter as per the video grab available with us….we are also trying to locate the farmhouse identified by Mail Today,” he said.
“Such an incident is very serious. We are definitely concerned about it and will look into it,” assured Conservator of Forests (South Circle) M.D. Sinha.
Rukumudin, a caretaker of a local farmhouse, said: “We have seen the two dead leopards. The wildlife department officials took the bodies for post-mortem examination.”
The villagers are claiming that the case of two leopards found dead in January could be linked to the farmhouse incident because the leopards were reportedly found in the vicinity of the farmhouse.
“The farmhouse owner probably put poison in the goat after it was hunted down by the big cat. A leopard eats its prey over a few days, so the leopard died after eating the poisoned goat.
"This could mean there is some illegal trade going on,” said a villager on condition of anonymity.
Divisional forest officer (Gurgaon range) K.S. Khetkar said: “Dying leopards in this area is a very serious matter; officials have been given strict instructions to closely monitor any kind of development in this regard.” Video.