[googlemap address=”Saoli, Chandrapur, Maharashtra, India” maptype=”ROADMAP” zoom=”11″ fullwidth=”true” width=”425″ height=”350″ marker=”false” scrollwheel=”false” longitude=”” latitude=””][/googlemap]
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] five-month-old leopard cub was killed, while one other was critically injured, as miscreants set the two ablaze alive near Nifandra village in Saoli tehsil on Tuesday afternoon. Forest officers initially tried to cover up the incident by claiming that it was a road accident.
The brutal killing comes just a day after a tiger cub was killed and another injured after being hit by a train on Gondia-Chandrapur route. Tuesday’s incident could be a case of revenge killing as leopards recently mauled to death two persons in Saoli tehsil recently.
Sources claimed that unidentified miscreants found two leopard cubs in a pipe laid in the farm of one Prakash Deshmukh located close to the village bus stop. The villagers sealed one end of the pipe with stones, put cow-dung cakes on the other end and set ablaze the inflammable material, used in villages as domestic fuel.
A leopard cub died of suffocation inside the pipe. The other cub somehow managed to force its way out of pipe and fell unconscious at the scene. Nobody came to its rescue till Pathri police reached the spot.
Forest officials on the spot reportedly kept their distance from the fragile cub, whose condition appeared to be critical. Police officers took the injured cub to Pathri police station and gave it some water. It was later dispatched to Chandrapur for emergency treatment with forest staffers.
CCF, Chandrapur circle, BSK Reddy confirmed that a leopard cub was killed, while another was injured in the blaze. He, however, refrained from blaming the villagers for cruel act. “We are investigating into the cause of fire. Possibility of accidental fire cannot be ruled out,” he said.
As the news broke out, forest officers initially tried to cover the incident by terming it as road accident. ACF Rajiv Pawar claimed that an unidentified vehicle knocked the two cubs, killing one and injuring the other. RFO, Saoli range, VC Pattiwar maintained that he failed to reach the spot as the tyre of his vehicle got punctured.