Tamil Nadu: To catch elusive leopard, drones and traps deployed

The leopard is suspected to have gone into hiding in thickets near Arokianathapuram
Forest department personnel fitting camera traps to capture leopard movement near Arokiyanathapuram in Mayiladuthurai on Thursday
Forest department personnel fitting camera traps to capture leopard movement near Arokiyanathapuram in Mayiladuthurai on ThursdayPhoto | Express

MAYILADUTHURAI: The search for the elusive leopard in Mayiladuthurai entered Day 2 on Thursday with over a hundred personnel from various departments maintaining round-the-clock vigil to track down the big cat. The forest department on Thursday set up 10 camera traps in addition to the six that were installed the previous day to monitor the leopard’s movement. They have also arranged drones with thermal imaging from Dharmapuri and two special traps from Madurai to capture it.

The leopard, which was spotted near Semmangulam on Tuesday night, was suspected to have gone into hiding near a private school at Koranad. According to sources, it is now believed to have stealthily moved three kilometres towards Arokianathapuram. Officials suspect that the leopard is hiding amidst the thickets in the area.

“We confirmed the leopard’s presence at Arockianathapuram by trails of pug marks on ground. We will set up the traps shortly as the leopard is likely to emerge at night,” Nagapattinam Wildlife Warden Abhishek Tomar told TNIE.

When asked if this is the first time a leopard has been spotted in delta districts, chief conservator of forests N Satheesh, who joined the warden and Sirkazhi forest range officer A Joseph Daniel, said a leopard was once spotted near Karaikal in the mid-1990s before the recent sighting.

“Leopards tend to avoid human habitats. However, we advice residents in and around Arokianathapuram to avoid stepping outside at night. We will track the movement and location of the animal and capture it soon,” he added.

The leopard is aged around eight years, officials said. A special team of five personnel from Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Coimbatore, has joined the search operation. Another five-member team from Muthupet Range in Tiruvarur district are already present in town.

Mayiladuthurai collector AP Mahabharathi declared a holiday for seven schools near Koranad on Thursday. Police protection was provided to four other schools to enable students to write Class 10 examination.

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