An adult leopard was found caught in a jaw trap at Hampapura, near Keregodu, in the district on Monday.
The feline, which had sustained minor injuries, was released into the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary at Kollegal, Chamarajanagar district, after being administered medical treatment.
The incident has worried the Forest Department because using jaw traps is an indication that professional hunters have extended their activities to the district. “This is a first-of-its-kind incident in the district,” said Harish, Range Forest Officer, Mandya. “It is a dangerous trend. It is an act of professional hunters. Jaw traps are placed by habitual offenders. The department will intensify vigilance to prevent the recurrence of such incidents,” he told The Hindu.
Senior officials in the department suspect that poachers had placed the jaw trap in the sugarcane field of a farmer, Jayaswamy, in the late hours of Sunday. The leopard landed in the trap in the early hours of Monday.
The incident came to light at 6.45 a.m. and was brought to the notice of the department around 7 a.m. However, it took nearly eight hours for officials to tranquillise the animal. Permission from the Chief Wildlife Officer is mandatory to tranquillise leopards. Although the department personnel arrived immediately with nets and other materials, the men on the ground did not get permission on time to tranquillise the animal, a senior forest officer said.
Meanwhile, a crowd gathered and expressed anger against the department for the inordinate delay in trapping the animal, which was seen screaming with pain in the jaw trap.