Five leopard cubs were found dead in a sugarcane field in Maharashtra’s Pune district on Wednesday. The cubs, all aged around three weeks, were killed when farm workers set fire to trash on the field in Avasari village in Junnar tehsil, reported media.
Deputy Conservator of Forest Jayram Gauda said a few farm workers told forest officials that they saw a snake near a heap of trash and set fire to the trash suspecting that there would be more snakes. Gauda said a case has been filed under the Wildlife Protection Act and statements of people working on the farm are being recorded.
The workers said they were not aware that there were cubs on the field, according to ANI. “We had come here to cut the harvest,” a worker told the news agency. “Owner told us to burn the trash on field, we didn’t know the cubs were there. A woman spotted them later and told us.”
An unidentified official of the Manchar police station told PTI that the cubs were born on the sugarcane farm at least three weeks ago. The carcasses were handed over to the forest department officials after post mortem, the official said.
Prajot Palve, range forest officer of Ambegaon, said night patrolling has been intensified as the mother leopard may return to the farms in search of the cubs, reported sources.