Leopard, civet keep Hyderabad on its toes

Forest staff set up camera traps after big cat escapes into wooded area

Two wild animals, a leopard and a civet, gave Hyderabadis something other than the coronavirus to bitch about on Thursday. Both animals strayed into human territory and forest staff moved in capture them. The civet was indeed caught and sent to the Nehru Zoo but the leopard eluded them and was still at large after spending a good amount of time lying beside a traffic median.

The leopard is perhaps injured after a brush with a speeding vehicle. It was first spotted near a road-under-bridge at Katedan in Mailardevpally on the outskirts of the city on Thursday morning.

After becoming the subject of local curiosity and starring in many handheld videos, the leopard managed to elude the foresters who turned up to catch it. It is believed to have escaped into a large wooded area through which the road passes.

After police drone cameras could not spot it, the forest department set up 20 camera traps in the entire vicinity including the 60 acres woods which has plenty of places where it could hide, such as abandoned poultry sheds.

A big team of forest department officials and staff camped in the area to capture the animal. If any of the camera traps show any image of the leopard, they plan to cordon off that area and move it.

The leopard was first spotted lying next to the road divider. It was harassed by people who gathered at the spot, including one truck driver who got swiped at when he got too close to the animal to capture it on his mobile phone.

Officials from the zoo, who had just completed the task of capturing an Asian palm civet from a mosque in Fateh Darwaza in Golconda, were informed about the leopard and rushed a team with a tranquiliser gun.

The leopard scurried away and jumped over a wall to enter the abandoned compound near the Budvel railway station. “We have placed two trap cages and stationed our animal rescue van at the location along with two other vehicles,” A Shankaran, officer on special duty at the forest department, said. “Be it Golconda or Mailardevpally, both are located on the outskirts, which have greenery for the animals,” Shankaran told Deccan Chronicle.

Imran Siddiqui, a wildlife biologist and founder of Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society, said, “Word was going around for some time that a big cat was on the prowl in Shamshabad. By the looks of it, the animal is injured and will move during the night when there is no other movement or disturbance.”

As for the civet, it was trapped at the Fateh Darwaza of the Golconda Fort sometime into the early hours of Thursday. By that time it too had featured in many WhatsApp videos, in some of which it was morphed to appear like a black panther.

The excitement died down when staff of the Nehru Zoological Park turned up and captured it.

A little after midnight Wednesday, the Asian civet was spotted near the Noornani Masjid near Fateh Darwaza. Somewhat grainy videos of the animal shot on cellphones began being shared on WhatsApp.

The wild animal rescue team from the Nehru Zoo reached the spot at 4.30 am, expecting to see a black panther. They entered the mosque and found less impressive animal droppings.

However, taking no chances, the trappers isolated the animal which clambered onto a minaret. The zoo staff then threw a net around the minaret, trapping the civet. It was taken to the zoo, and checked for health. It was good health, officials said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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