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Greater Noida residents spot ‘leopard’, forest officers say it’s a fishing cat

A resident of Greater Noida west clicked a picture of the animal when his driver spotted it stumbling upon the service road near the drain. The photo soon began circulating on Whatsapp groups.

noida Updated: Jan 18, 2019 13:00 IST
Vaibhav Jha
Vaibhav Jha
Hindustan Times, Greater Noida
greater noida west,leopard spotted in greater noida,stellar jeevan society
Wildlife experts, on the basis of photographs, said the animal could possibly be a leopard. But forest officials have disputed the claim. (Sourced Photo )

A picture of a wild animal lurking on a service road in Greater Noida west, floated on city’s Whatsapp groups on Wednesday night, has residents claiming that they have spotted a leopard whereas the forest officials said pug marks showed that it was a fishing cat, an endangered species.

It was around 9pm on Wednesday that 42-year-old Caleb Gilbert heard his cab driver yell “tiger-tiger”, about 300 metres away from his home in Stellar Jeevan of Greater Noida west, as the speeding vehicle came to an abrupt halt to spot a wild animal stumbling upon the service road near a drain. Gilbert, a native of Valparai in Tamil Nadu, claims that the animal resembled a leopard and it was on the service road adjacent to Paramount Emotions society. He immediately clicked a picture on his phone and rushed to his Stellar Jeevan society to alert the guards.

“I belong to Valparai where there is a tiger reserve and I have seen several wild animals in my youth, so I know a leopard when I see one. I immediately informed the security guards and a few residents who then returned to the same spot a few minutes later. However, the animal was gone by then,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert’s picture started circulating on Whatsapp and, soon, a team from Bisrakh police station reached the spot.

“We did not find any wild animal. We also alerted the forest department officials who conducted a search on Thursday morning,” Anil Shai, station house officer, Bisrakh police station, said.

Wildlife experts, however, said, from the grainy picture shot by Gilbert, it looks the animal was indeed a leopard.

“Going by the skin patches and physique, it appears that the animal was a leopard,” Ananda Banerjee, a Noida-based wildlife specialist, said.

However, when forest officials reached the spot, they claimed the animal could be fishing cat — an endangered species of the cat family commonly found in South Asia until a few decades ago.

According to district forest officer PK Srivastava, pug marks of a fishing cat, were found on Thursday morning near the drain, opposite Paramount Emotions society.

“Our team visited the spot and found pug marks of a fishing cat. We had earlier spotted pug marks of a fishing cat in Kasna area as well. There won’t be any combing operation to search for the wild animal, because, although the animal is carnivorous, it is not a man-eater,” Srivastava said.

First Published: Jan 18, 2019 13:00 IST