Hyderabad: A young male leopard that had made the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics ( ICRISAT) its home, or rather a home base in February this years from where it was foraying into other areas, was finally captured around 1.15 a.m. on Wednesday.
The leopard, first spotted in ICRISAT in the first week of February and kept the Institute’s staff and Forest Department officials on their toes for over four months, also gave some sleepless nights to officials at the crack commando force, the Greyhounds police force, at their complex near Narsingi for a few weeks.
After having spent a few weeks in the Greyhounds comlex, the leopard which returned to ICRISAT, was tranquilized by Nehru Zoological Park veterinary staff past midnight on Tuesday and has since been shifted to the zoo to be kept under observation for a few hours. It will, later in the day, be taken to the Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Nagarkurnool district and released deep in the forest after sundown.
“We had reports of it back in ICRISAT for about a week now and tied some baits. It fed on one a couple of days ago and on Tuesday night, came to another baited goat,” a department source told Telagnana Today.
This time round, according to the officials who were waiting in a vehicle about 50 feet away from the bait, saw the leopard come and begin ‘playing’ with the baited goat. “We switched off all our mobiles to avoid any possible sudden noises and stayed near the bait hoping the leopard will put in an appearance,” an official involved with the capture and rescue operation told Telangana Today.
Once it was determined that the leopard had let its guard down and was relaxed, the staff switched on a flood lamp and the veterinary officer from the zoo immediately shot at with a tranquilizer that found its mark. The leopard was soon down and was immobilized from the tranquilizing drugs and was placed in a trap cage and taken to the zoo for a full inspection on one of the ICRISAT owned vehicles.
Meanwhile, the baited goat, which was not injured by the leopard, was said to have fainted by shock and has since been revived and is also said to be in good health.
Asked where the leopard was during the period it left ICRISAT, an official said it made its way to the Greyhounds police training facility in Narsingi area. “We compared the pictures of the leopard from the Greyhounds complex and ICRISAT and it is confirmed that it is the same animal. And it made its way back, nearly over a distance of 30 km, to ICRISAT whose campus it clearly preferred to the drier Greyhounds complex,” an official said.
The captured leopard appears healthy and without any injuries, the official added.
Staff, residents relieved after ICRISAT leopard caught
The employees of ICRISAT (International Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics) and people living in its neighbourhood heaved a sigh of relief after the leopard, which made the institute its home since February, was trapped early on Wednesday.
Since ICRISAT grows a variety of crops on its 1,390-hectare campus, the institute hires a number of labourers to work in the fields every day. As the crops are spread across the campus, the ICRISAT management was careful while deputing the workers in its farm. In fact, the security personnel spotted the wildcat on February 4 for the first time.
The management asked workers to move in groups only to protect themselves. The workers and staff sighted the leopard a number of times in the past four months from close quarters. Since there was enough prey available and the workers never attempted to harm it, the animal never tried to attack any of them.
Sangareddy Divisional Forest Officer K Venakteshwarlu said the carnivore never attempted to attack any human being because it got enough food and water on the campus. Not only the ICRISAT staff and management, the people living around the campus also were relieved on knowing that the leopard was captured.
Shanti Nagar in Patancheru mandal, Bombay Colony, MIG Colony and MAC Society, among other areas in RC Puram mandal, are adjacent to the campus. The residents of these areas heaved a sigh of relief after receiving the news.