Kerala: Forest officials in Kerala arrested five men on charges of killing a leopard, a species protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and consuming its meat. The incident was reported Wednesday in the Munipara area under the Mankulam Range of the forest department in Idukki district.VB Udayasooryan, Mankulam Range Forest Officer, told that a six-year-old male leopard was ensnared by the accused in a private field in Munipara for the explicit purpose of trafficking its body parts. Following a tip-off, the forest officers led by him conducted a raid at the house of PK Vinod, one of the accused, where they found incriminating evidence of the act such as the leopard’s skin, teeth, jawbones, nails and its meat, in both cooked and uncooked forms. The snare used to trap the animal as well as other weapons used in killing it were also seized.
“Their objective behind killing the animal was to sell its body parts. But before they could find a dealer, we conducted the operation and arrested them. We found out that they had cooked a portion of the meat and ate it among themselves,” said Udayasooryan. “Even though there’s no previous record of their criminal history, they have confessed to killing wild animals and consuming its meat in the past. A 74-year-old man among them claimed to have eaten all kinds of meat,” the officer said. Apart from Vinod, the other accused are VP Kuriakose (74), CS Binu (50), Sali Kunjappan (54) and Vincent (50). They have been charged under sections 9, 39, 44, 49, 50, 51 and 57 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.