Neeleeswaram: Forest officials tranquillised and captured a leopard that was lurking in a shed adjacent to a house in Malayattoor-Neeleeswaram panchayat in Ernakulam district Thursday.
The spotted big cat was hiding in the shed, where firewood was stored, next to the house of Manavalan Joseph. The leopard, estimated to be two-year-old, was spotted when a member of the family went to fetch firewood.
The leopard seemed calm, and local residents locked the shed from outside before informing the authorities. Personnel from the forest, fire and rescue and police departments then reached the scene.
Meanwhile, veterinary surgeon of Konni Wildlife Sanctuary, who incidentally was in the DFO office in Perumbavoor, too reached the scene and fired tranquilliser shots at the leopard.
On being shot, the feline initially showed signs of aggressive behaviour, but soon calmed down. Officials netted him and shifted to a cage before taking it to the wildlife rescue home in Kodanad.
The animal will be released to the wild after being under observation for 10 days, said P.M. Abdul Razaq, Kaladi forest range officer.
The sighting of the leopard spread panic in Naduvattom. Local residents said the beast might have followed the scent of fowls and animals kept at a farm. Pug marks were seen in nearby cocoa and plantain farms, and the nearest wooded area is barely a kilometre away.
A year ago, a leopard and two cubs were seen crossing the road at nearby Karakkatt. The forest department had snared another leopard at a rubber estate in the neighbouring Kannimangalam.
Forest department officials, meanwhile, dispelled fears that since the tranquillised leopard was a younger one, an adult too would be lurking in the area.