Four teams set up to trace a leopard that had strayed into a residential colony on Tuesday have failed to find any sign of the big cat’s presence in the locality, a forest official said Friday.
MP forest department officials had launched a drive to search for the leopard, which had sneaked into an up-market Radio colony, after the animal was caught on closed circuit television (CCTV) camera outside the residential area, while it roamed about in the area Tuesday evening, said a senior state forest department official.
The sighting came to light on Thursday and residents in the Residency area were alerted.
"We were hoping to find footprints of the leopard on the banks of the nullha where the ground is wet, but found nothing,” said state chief conservator of forest (CCF) RR Okhandiyar. “Neither did we find any kill nearby.”
"The team also questioned dog owners but none of them reported any abnormal behaviour by their pets during that period,” he said.
Four separate teams searched the Radio Colony area, the nullah passing through the zoo on to Palda area, the Devguradia, Sanawadia and Bypass area and the Khandwa Road, Kasturba gram area, but found no trace of the leopard, the CCF added.
He said that the searches will continue for a couple of days more and photographs of the leopard will be circulated among the residents.
Residents and shopkeepers in the locality, which houses senior government officials, however, said that they were unaware of the animal straying in the area.
"It must have passed five feet from where I am sitting, but I saw or heard nothing,” said Abdul Mansoori, a paan shop owner near the residence where the leopard was caught on camera.
"The leopard must have walked very stealthily."
Suresh Chouhan and his wife Nibha, who run another paan shop down the road said: “Since it was dark, we couldn’t see any animal moving on the road.”
We normally keep our shop open till 9pm… surprisingly none of our customer tells us about that incident and we only came to know about presence of any wild animal near our shop through Friday’s newspapers," said Nibha, who was with her husband Suresh.
‘Leopard may have come via nullah’
Was the leopard whose picture was captured by a CCTV camera in the Residency area while roaming near the Indore zoo on Tuesday, in heat? Chief conservator forests (CCF) RR Okhandiyar seems to think that there is a possibility and that is why he had come near the zoo. “Winter is the preferred mating period for most animals and the scent of leopards inside the zoo might have drawn leopard whose picture was captured,” the CCF said.
“The leopard was seen nowhere else in the city but near the zoo and then he disappeared when he could not enter the zoo premises,” the CCF added.
Okhandiyar said it was highly unlikely that the leopard came from the zoo and then went back inside. “I believe he had come from somewhere else,” he said and added that leopards have been known to wander over 100 km from their natural habitat. One of the possibilities is that it came by the side of the nullah and then left the same way.
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