The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Soldiers snare pet-preying leopard

Binnaguri (Jalpaiguri), June 21: The operation to flush out intruders has been a success, but armymen are worried about further incursions.

It’s not the fear of gun-totting militants, but hungry leopards on the prowl. One was snared today in a trap laid by the army with help from the forest department at the cantonment here. Twenty-three days ago, an adult male leopard was trapped in the officers’ colony after it had preyed on a colonel’s dog and about 30 chicken.

“When the earlier one was trapped, we feared there are some more leopards roaming in the cantonment area. We had intimated the forest officials. Our apprehension came true,” said Brigadier Swapan Ghosh, the station commander of the cantonment, today.

The cantonment, spread over a few thousand acres, is surrounded by tea gardens and forests. “We feel the leopards find dogs, poultry and other animals easy prey in the cantonment. That is why they are entering this area,” a senior forest official said.

“Day before yesterday, it (the captured leopard) managed to grab the pet dog of a major from the officers’ colony and we were sure another leopard was roaming the area. A notice was served to the residents, asking them to remain alert. Last night, we laid a trap and, fortunately, found him inside the cage this morning,” said Major Ravi Chauhan.

Sources said the leopard was lured into a camouflaged cage with a goat tied up inside. It will be released in the nearby Gorumara National Park soon. “We will first hand the animal over to the forest department as it needs treatment,” Chauhan said.

Though no human casualty has been reported so far, the leopards in residential areas have the armymen worried. “Our officers and staff travel on the roads in the evening. Some go for walks at night with family. Children play in the quarters. We are worried as we think there might be more leopards in the cantonment,” Ghosh said, adding that traps would be laid again.

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