A leopard that had remained elusive for almost five months in the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) campus, Patancheru, was finally caught by the Telangana Forest Department on Wednesday. The male feline, weighing around 80 kgs and around eight years old, was trapped using a cage. It got captured at around 12 am, when it came to prey on the bait.
“The animal was intelligent; it came close to the trap cage twice. In one instance, it even entered the cage but left soon after sensing something wrong. So, we had to be patient,” said A Shankaran, Deputy Conservator of Forests, OSD, Wildlife, to TNM.
A six-member team, including a veterinarian, captured the leopard. After tranquillizing the animal, it was sent to Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad for medical examination. Authorities said that the animal suffered no injuries while being captured and was medically fit to be relocated to a forest.
“We are in talks with the district forest officers trying to figure out where the animal should be released. The habitat should be suitable, with plenty of prey available. We will finalise the forest area and translocate the animal in two days,” Shankaran said.
The leopard, that was first spotted in February, had been giving sleepless nights to the Forest Department authorities. To catch the animal the Department had set up four trap cages with live goats and 40 cameras.
“Initially we had set up 10 cameras and then increased its number to 40 cameras. We had to monitor the animal every day. Based on its movements we had to move around the cages,” Shankaran said.
The leopard was first spotted by the security team of ICRISAT. The officials were able to capture the animal on video and passed it to the forest authorities. “Though the security on patrol spotted the animal in February, we could spot the animal only a month later,” said, Shankaran.
Officials suspect that the animal could have come from Vikarabad forests.