Thursday, November 19, 2009

India: Leopard chasing deer run over by truck

Radha Venkatesan, TNN 18 November 2009, 05:50am IST

COIMBATORE: A young male leopard was run over by a speeding vehicle while it was chasing a sambar deer at Karapallam on the national highway between

Sathyamangalam and Mysore in the early hours of Tuesday. The one-and-a-half-year-old leopard was crossing the national highway near Asanur, 30 km from Sathyamanglam town in Erode district, and got hit by a truck, the Sathyamangalam divisional forest officer, S Ramasubramaniam, told TOI.

"It is sad that we are losing our animals in road accidents," the DFO said. An survey of the area, which had both pug marks and hoof marks, indicated that the leopard was chasing a sambar deer when it was hit by a truck. However, the deer escaped while the leopard died on the spot.

Post-mortem examination revealed that the spinal cord of the leopard was broken, causing its instant death. The sprawling Sathyamanglam forests, which is contiguous with the Nilgiris and Karnataka forests, has just about 15 to 20 leopards, besides two black panthers.

The Sathyamangalam forests, once the home of legendary bandit Veerappan, faces torrid heat for four months in a year and has only a small population of leopards. However, in the last two years, tigers are being sighted in the Bhavanisagar range.

Often, huge tuskers and elephant calves are sighted on the drive through the national highway from Bannari in Erode district to Mysore in Karnataka. There are over 800 elephants in the Sathyamangalam forests. However, it is the first time that a wild animal has been hit in the recent years in Sathyamangalam, say forest officials.

While the national highways from Mudumalai and Bandipur, which fall within the tiger reserve, are closed for traffic at night, the highway coursing through Sathyamangalam forests is open to vehicular traffic. Besides, with rains ravaging the Mudumalai and Ooty roads, most vehicles headed for Bangalore are now taking the Sathyamangalam route, putting the passing wild animals in peril.


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