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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: After keeping the forest department officials on toes for three long days, the leopard that was spotted moving in Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) area in Bhubaneswar was finally caught in a trap laid by the rescue and tranquilizer team late on Tuesday night. The big cat was reportedly caught near the Cargo Gate of the Airport, sources said.

As per latest reports, the wild cat has been safely released in the Chandaka forests after being given a preliminary treatment at the Nandankanan Zoological Park in Bhubaneswar following tranquilization.

Honorary Wildlife Warden, Subhendu Mallick said, “The leopards are nocturnal animals and hide during day time. The animal that had strayed here was a male and will be kept in Nandankanan Zoo for a while and later probably will be shifted to the forests.”

“After a long operation of two days, the officials of Chandaka, City forest divisions and experts from Nandankanan were able to trap the leopard,” said forest ranger of Chandaka wildlife division, Sameer Kumar Behera.

“The leopard was screaming after it got trapped in the cage. Therefore, we gave it mild tranquilizer for smooth shifting of the animal to Nandankanan. We are constantly monitoring the leopard and it's perfectly healthy," said another officer.

“The animal was caught with zero casualties. Neither the leopard nor any officer or locals were injured in the operation. Initially, we tried to tranquilize the leopard but the area was not suitable. So later, we decided to lay six cage traps, three inside the airport premises and three outside,” said another forest official adding that the leopard might have strayed into the city through the drainage channel between Chandaka forest and Bhubaneswar.

The leopard was spotted near the city airport thrice. First, it scaled the airport boundary wall and entered the premises of the commercial establishment in Palaspalli area, the visuals of which were captured by a CCTV. A day after, it was again spotted in the wee hours of Tuesday by a security personnel deployed at the ATS Tower.

Following this, a team of forest department and CISF led by city DFO began an operation to capture the leopard. Even a tranquilizer team of Nandankanan was also present at the spot.

Based on satellite image showing movement of the leopard near the BPI Airport, the forest department officials along with CISF team laid traps with chickens as baits to capture the wild cat.

The leopard was again found lurking near the Regional Meteorological Centre at Biju Patnaik Airport last night and it was successfully captured at around 2 am and shifted to Nandankanan Zoological Park.

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