A seven-hour long operation resulted in the capture of a leopard that had created panic among the residents of Sadullapur and its neighbouring villages in Ecotech 3 area of Greater Noida on Sunday morning. No villagers were hurt by the animal.The leopard was caught around 5 pm with the operation involving five trained specialists from various teams. Officials said the leopard appeared to be a seven- or eight-year-old male. It was taken to Surajpur forest nursery, and will be released in the Shivalik forest belt of Saharanpur Monday morning. A medical examination allegedly revealed the animal was unhurt.District forest officials were quick to ascertain that this was not the same animal spotted Wednesday by residents in Greater Noida West. Officials maintained the animal spotted Wednesday was a fishing cat.Information of the leopard sighting first came to the police around 10.15 am.“The animal had caused a lot of panic among the locals and it was only after it was captured that they were relieved,” Pappu Pradhan, former village head of Sadullapur, said.“A huge crowd had gathered near the area where the leopard was first spotted. A retired army personnel, who was working with the villagers to contain the animal in a farmhouse, had his trousers torn when he got too close to the cat. However, none of the villagers were injured,” Anita Chauhan, station house officer, Ecotech 3 police station, said.The police said the forest department was immediately informed of the animal’s presence. They also said the animal sighting had created panic not only in residents of Sadullapur, but also in neighbouring villages.“We spotted the animal first around 11.15 am. After the confirmation, I called up the chief conservator of forests who reached the spot soon thereafter,” PK Upadhyay, district forest officer (DFO), said. Teams were called in from the Delhi National Zoological Park, Wildlife SOS and the forest department (Meerut zone).The DFO said such incidents were rare in urban districts like Gautam Budh Nagar.“The district does not, at the moment, have the necessary manpower to handle such situations and that is why we had to call for other teams,” Upadhyay said.It took nearly four hours for the teams to gather the necessary equipment required to contain the animal, like tranquilisers, cage, safety net, etc.“The animal has been taken to the Surajpur forest nursery for now. A doctor has examined him and there are no injuries. He will be freed in the Shivalik forest belt of Saharanpur tomorrow morning,” Lalit Verma, chief conservator of Forest (Meerut zone), UP, said.He said that the biggest challenge in Sunday’s operation was crowd management. “As the news of the sighting spread, thousands of villagers gathered right where the rescue operation was on. The crowd created a lot of hindrances in the operation,” Verma said.Officials suspect the animal might have reached the spot while chasing prey. “A few leopards have been spotted along the banks of Ganga in Baghpat, Garh, etc. Sometimes, wild animals move to territories outside their own while chasing prey,” Upadhyay said.