Fresh pugmarks of a leopard were found at the Ralamandal wildlife sanctuary near Indore on Thursday, reviving fears that the big cat was still prowling in the vicinity, a possibility that forest officials had ruled out last week.
The state forest authorities had banned entry of tourists into the sanctuary after the carcass of neelgai or blue bull that was presumably killed by the leopard was recovered on September 26.
After wildlife experts confirmed that the pugmarks and the kill was that of a leopard, forest officials had set up bait for the leopard at three different locations within the sanctuary along with camera traps to monitor its movements but have failed to capture the spotted cat.
“No fresh kill has been recovered by us. It means that no new hunt is being done by the leopard,” said Ralamandal sanctuary in-charge RC Chaubey.
“We will continue with the ban on entry of tourists until the leopard is captured,” he said.
Earlier last week, Chaubey had said that the leopard might have moved to the Nahar Jhabua or Tillor forest area as it seemed to have strayed from the Asrawad Khurd area through a green stretch.
The fresh pugmarks have raised fears of the continued presence of the big cat among villagers living on the sanctuary’s periphery. Last year, a leopard had strayed into the wildlife sanctuary which does not have carnivorous animals.
“There have been cases before when leopards attacked villagers. We are unable to move around the area after dark,” said Rachna Bai, a resident of a village in Ralamandal.