Leopardess in tea estate near Valparai could have died of old age, says veterinary officer

The death of a leopardess in a tea estate near Valparai in Coimbatore district on Saturday could have been due to old age, said Forest Veterinary Officer A. Sukumar who autopsied the carcass. 

He said the carnivore was aged between 8 and 10 and leopards in the wild live approximately 10 to 12 years. 

“The animal’s claws were intact while its right upper canine had a crack. The teeth had eroded due to ageing. There were no external injuries and signs of poaching or attack by another animal,” said Dr. Sukumar.

According to the Forest Department, the carcass in decomposing state was found in NC division of Stanmore tea estate, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Manambolly forest range of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), on Saturday morning.

 Deputy Director of ATR M. G. Ganesan and Manambolly forest range officer A. Manikandan visited the place after which the carcass was shifted to the Anti-Depredation Squad Rescue Centre at Rottikkadai for autopsy. 

The post-mortem was performed as per the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. Mr. Ganesan said that bodily samples of the deceased animal were collected for histopathological examinations. 

“Other causes of death including chances of poisoning could only be ascertained based on the results of the laboratory examination. The carcass had live maggots which is normally not seen when an animal dies of poisoning,” said Mr. Ganesan.