“The paws of the leopard were bleeding from the still open wound while it lay listless on the operating table at the vet section of the zoo,” said Ralamandal wildlife sanctuary sub divisional officer (SDO) forest and animal rescue centre incharge Ashok Kharate. He had reached the zoo soon after being informed of the missing nails.
“A nail of the bigger felines may fetch up to `50,000 in the international market as they are used for decorative, medicinal and magical purposes. Nothing can be ruled out and we are still awaiting post-mortem report, which would clear things up”, Kharate said.
Zoo incharge and veterinarian Dr Uttam Yadav said, “From past one and a half months, Monty had been undergoing treatment and we had specified to the vets treating him about his mental condition. No one can even touch a ferocious animal inside cage at a zoo leave alone sawing off the nails from its paw. In fits of rage, Monty used to gnaw at its paws and might have swallowed the nails.”
District Forest Officer (DFO) Saeed Khan said that an animal normally nursed its wounds by licking as saliva has antiseptic qualities and it might be confused with chewing off own body part.
Khan assured that investigation would be carried out and that they were awaiting post-mortem report to confirm whether the claws were in its stomach.
Cases of trading in wildlife artefacts have been reported from in and around Indore in recent months. In April this year, Uday Nagar police Dewas held one person while he was trying to sell a leopard skin for Rs 5 lakh. In September, a carcass of a leopard was recovered from the backwaters of Indira Sagar Dam on the river Narmada in the Khandwa district.