Mumbai: In a shocker, five leopard cubs, all aged three weeks, were killed in Maharashtra as farm workers burnt trash in a sugarcane field, unaware of the presence of the wild cats there. The cubs were found dead in a sugarcane farm at Avasari village in Junnar tehsil of Pune Wednesday, police said. A farm worker said, “We were there to cut the harvest. The farm owner asked us to burn trash on field and we did so, unaware that the cubs were there.”
According to Jayram Gauda, deputy conservator of forest, some workers told forest officials that they saw a snake near the heap of trash, and thinking that there would be more snakes hiding there, they decided to set it on fire. An official of Manchar police station told PTI that the cubs were born in sugarcane farm at least three weeks before. Farm workers tried to burn dry waste of the farm, following which a blaze broke out, he said. After some people in the area noticed presence of cubs, the fire brigade, police and forest department were alerted, he said.
But it was too late as by then the cubs were charred to death, the official said. The carcasses were handed over to forest department officials after post mortem, the official said. A case under the Wildlife Protection Act has been registered and the process of recording statements of people working on the farm was underway, Gauda said.