The final report of the three-member committee, appointed to investigate the death of a mountain leopard, at Summerhill Estate in Hatton, has been handed over to Minister of Agriculture, Wildlife and Forest Resources Conservation, Mahinda Amaraweera.
Whilst criticism was levelled against the cutting down of the tree, whilst the leopard was on it, the committee observed that cutting the tree was the only option that was available to the officers under minimum facilities.
The report contained 25 recommendations regarding the protection of the mountain leopard population, while noting that attention should also be paid to the establishment of wildlife protection committees at the village level to save the animals and get prompt information.
Commenting on the difficulties faced in rescuing the said mountain leopard due to the shortage of equipment, the committee emphasised on the importance of providing equipment, machines necessary for rescuing endangered animals, especially portable equipment for use in mountainous areas.
A Mountain leopard got caught in a snare that was set up to hunt wild boar on 6 August, following which it climbed a tree with a wire of the snare wrapped around it.
Despite the efforts of the wildlife officers to cut the tree to rescue the leopard, it succumbed to its injuries.
Amaraweera instructed that a committee be appointed to investigate the incident while stating that disciplinary actions would be taken against wildlife officers if the investigations reveal any negligence on their part.
Investigations revealed that the leopard had died due to the damage sustained in its internal organs as a result of being caught in the snare and hanging from a tall tree for hours.
Amaraweera instructed the secretary to the Ministry to promptly implement the recommendations made by the committee to protect the mountain leopard population.
BY Faadhila Thassim