Operation Chirutha: Fifth wild cat trapped at Alipiri since June
Identified as a two-year-old sub-adult, the female feline has been quarantined at Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park.
TIRUMALA: Another leopard was captured near Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple at the Seventh Mile on the foothills of Tirumala around 11:27 p.m. on Wednesday. This is the fifth wild cat that has been trapped in two months.
#AndhraPradesh: The trap camera footage of the #Leopard that walked into the cage set up by #forest dept officials to catch the wild animals near the #Alipiri trekking path @NewIndianXpress #Tirupati #TTD #wildlife pic.twitter.com/OLMWnmMwbZ— TNIE Andhra Pradesh (@xpressandhra) September 7, 2023
The Forest Department and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) launched an operation to capture leopards after a six-year-old girl, Lakshita, was mauled to death by a wild cat at the Alipiri pedestrian route in August. In another incident, a leopard attacked a three-year-old boy on June 22.
Identified as a two-year-old sub-adult, the female feline has been quarantined at Sri Venkateswara Zoological Park. Officials explained that tests would be conducted on the leopard to ascertain if it was the one that killed the girl.
Stating that the forest department is yet to receive reports of the tests conducted on the leopards captured earlier, officials said the wild cats will be released into the forest, once it is determined that neither of them killed Lakshita. If any of them is identified as the one who mauled the girl, it will be kept at the Zoo.
The forest officials also explained that they will stop setting up traps for now, but will continue monitoring the movement of wild animals and capture them once they are spotted in the trap cameras. Meanwhile, TTD chairman Bhumana Karunakar Reddy, who visited the spot where the leopard was captured on Thursday morning, reiterated that they will take all possible measures to ensure the safety of devotees along the Srivari Mettu and Alipiri footpath.
“Trapping the leopard is an indication of TTD’s commitment to safeguard the devotees taking the pedestrian routes,” Bhumana said while speaking to reporters after inspecting security arrangements at Sri Narasimha Swamy Temple, along with forest and TTD officials.
Stating that Operation Chirutha will continue with 300 forest officials, the TTD chief pointed out, “After the attack on the two children, the Temple Trust has been sending devotees on the trekking paths in a group of 100, along with a security guard. Pilgrims with children will not be allowed on the pedestrian routes after 2 p.m. in view of their safety.”