Mumbai: As many as 85 leopards have died in Maharashtra due to various causes, including poaching, during 2017, a state forest official told media.
He added that Nashik saw the highest number of leopard deaths at 20 followed by Kolhapur with 13 deaths.
Natural causes accounted for the highest number of deaths at 55 while accidents claimed the lives of 21 leopards. Nine leopards were also hunted, he said.
The official was quoting figures from the data compiled by the statistics department. He, however, added that the number of deaths for 2017 was six less than the toll for 2016.
“Electrocution, getting run over while crossing roads, drowning in wells and old age are the four primary reasons for these deaths. Of these, the first three are man-made causes,” the data revealed.
Rohan Bhate, honorary wildlife warden from Satara explained, “The leopard is a territorial animal and survives by hunting small animals like hare, deer, goat and sheep. Increasing human intervention in the fringes of forests has affected the prey base of the leopards. This, in turn, has forced them to move towards towns and human settlements.”
“The human intervention includes construction of roads and water canals, and erection of high tension electricity cables,” explained Raman Kulkarni, honorary wild life warden from Kolhapur.
Data from the forest department show that 350 leopards have died in the state since 2013.