Puri, April 25 (PTI): Wildlife authorities have stumbled upon a leopard carcass buried in Kalikabadi forest in Orissa's Puri district.
The predator's carcass was inside a gunny bag and found to be intact, forest officials said today.
The leopard, a male, was between eight to ten years of age and about four feet in length and two-and-half feet in height.
The carcass was found after a search launched by wildlife personnel following reports in a local newspaper that three leopards had been killed in the forest.
Divisional Forest Officer S K Mishra had dismissed the report saying the carcass belonged to a hyena which had been sighted by wildlife staff.
But it was not found the next morning and a forest guard was placed under suspension for dereliction of duty.
A team of officials including Mishra, noted tiger expert Lala A K Singh and assistant conservator of forest S K Ray was deputed by the chief wildlife warden S C Mohanty to inquire into the newspaper report.
The Forest department had maintained that there were no leopards in Kalikabadi forest and not one had been sighted over the past decade.
It is suspected that the tiger might have strayed into the jungle from Rambha-Khallikote or Dhuanali or Barbara forest to the area. But how it died is yet to be ascertained.