Rescued black leopard dies; wildlife officials yet to determine cause of death
ECONOMYNEXT – The rare dark-furred leopard that was rescued by wildlife officials from a hunters’ snare earlier this week died this morning after three days of treatment. Department of Wildlife Conversation (DWC) officials, under whose care the seven-year-old black panther was said to be recovering, have yet to determine the exact cause of death.
The wounded leopard was found and rescued on May 26 at the Lakshapana Estate in Nallathanniya, Hatton, and was later transported to the Randenigala Veterinary Hospital for treatment.
Initial examinations performed by Dr Malaka Abeyratne of the Udawalawa Department of Wildlife Conservation had revealed that the snare had heavily damaged the leopard’s neck area.
DWC veterinarian Dr Vijitha Perera told EconomyNext told EconomyNext that it was the only black panther reported in the Hatton area
“There are some records of black leopard sightings [in Sri Lanka], but this was the only one reported to be living in Hatton.”
Perera said the leopard’s remains were taken to the University of Peradeniya for a postmortem.
“We cannot clearly say what the reason for the death was until a postmortem is done,” Perera said.
DWC Director General Chandana Sooriyabandara, meanwhile, said the department is working on obtaining legal permission to conduct the postmortem.
“We have to do the postmortem from a government approved institute,” he told EconomyNext.
“The veterinarians have some hypotheses, but until the postmortem is done, we cannot say what the exact cause of death was,” he added.
The animal is a melanistic colour variant of the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) and contrary to popular misconception is not a distinct species. (Colombo/ May 29/ 2020)