The Jaws of Death; Leopard Rescued from Jaw Trap set up by Poachers in Maharashtra

March 12, 2019 | By wildlife@dmin

One of the cruelest human-created threats to wildlife, the jaw trap is clearly the most common devices used to trap or immobilize animals. Used across centuries, jaw traps are lethal hunting devices which can cause severe lacerations, joint dislocations, mutilations, fractures and even death in most cases. Animals caught in these traps often struggle for hours, in some cases even days before succumbing to thirst, hunger, strangulation, internal injuries and even predation from carnivores.

Recently, in a rather shocking incident an approximately three-year old male leopard was found entrapped in a steel jaw trap, set up by poachers in Jeur Haibati village, located in the Ahmendnagar district, Maharashtra. Our team based out of Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar quickly geared up for the rescue operation on receiving a call from the Maharashtra Forest Department. Recognizing the extremity of the situation, a four-member team from the NGO rushed to the location with safety nets, restraining equipment and a trap cage in hand.

Wildlife SOS vet Dr. Ajay Deshmukh preparing the tranquilizing gear.
The leopard’s left fore-limb was trapped in a deadly jaw trap and was found in a field outside a village in Ahmednagar.

The leopard’s left forelimb was caught in the steel jaw trap and in its attempt to break free of the painful leg- hold, the leopard started running amok in the neighboring agricultural field. Hundreds of curious onlookers that had gathered around the area further added to its distress, with their panicked screams.  The Forest Department officials and the team from Manikdoh leopard Rescue Centre collectively executed public safety measures by cordoning off the areas to pacify the gatherers. Consequently, Wildlife SOS’ Senior Veterinarian Dr. Ajay Deshmukh carefully immobilized the big cat, using a sedative injection from a safe distance. The team then administered the drug and carefully removed the penetrating jaw trap from the entrapped left forelimb.

Jaw traps are lethal hunting devices which can cause severe lacerations, joint dislocations, fractures and even death in most cases.

The timely removal of the jaw trap was essential to evade any further damage to the forelimb. The wound was disinfected, and the team administered topical treatment along with analgesics and anti-inflammatory medication.  The rescue mission lasted several hours as the leopard was then transferred to a transit facility for a thorough medical examination. Fortunately, medical examination revealed that the feline sustained no internal injuries and the wound on the forelimb to be minor and superficial.  The injured animal was kept under observation under the custody of the Forest Department and will be released once affirmed fit.

Wildlife SOS team carrying out an on-site medical examination to check on the leopard’s condition.

Not all animals have the opportunity to escape from these indiscriminate killing devices. With the power to kill anything that mistakenly steps on it, these jaws of death, kill hundreds of wild animals ranging from a rabbit to a bear, leopard and even tigers.

We are extremely grateful to the villagers for following the protocol by informing the authorized Forest officials and not taking the matter in their hands. We are also thankful to the Forest Department for shouldering us with such responsibility. The teams have jointly in the past carried out successful rescue operations in the region. Wildlife SOS aims to create awareness and educate the masses about the illegality of such offences and curb the gruesome act of poaching.

Watch the exclusive video of the entire rescue operation here.

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