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Leopard fear grips Jorhat IAF station

Jorhat, Aug. 13: Fear has gripped the Air Force station here after forest employees announced that more leopards were lurking on the campus.

The IAF has sought help from the forest department following which the department installed a cage on the campus. A male leopard was captured on Thursday.

“There are more leopards on the Air Force campus. That is why we have set up cages in various locations to trap the big cats,” Ranjit Dutta, a forest department employee, who was the member of the team which had launched the operation to capture the leopard, said.

The leopard was released at a reserve forest in Golaghat district yesterday after being fitted with a microchip.

Established in early 1950s, Jorhat IAF station at Rowriah, about 10km from here, is one of the major transportation hubs in the country.

The station has been making plans for expansion with the authorities seeking more land from the government.

A letter from Wing Commander R. Chaudhury of the station to the forest department recently stated that leopards were sighted regularly in the domestic areas of station, which has put the life of the inhabitants in danger.

Following the request from the Air Force, the forest department installed a cage inside the station about 10 days back.

“There was no luck for the past nine days but yesterday morning we received a phone call from the IAF authorities about a leopard getting trapped inside the cage. We rushed to the station immediately and brought the animal to the forest office after tranquillising it,” Dutta said.

Jorhat forest range officer Pankaj Kalita said the Air Force authorities have requested to install more such cages on the campus.

“These leopards generally enter the Air Force station from the nearby tea gardens,” Kalita said.

At least four leopards were sighted at Rangajan tea estate, near the Air Force station.

While one of the leopards was killed late in the evening, one was rescued by the experts from the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation.

“We found two leopards inside a drain at the tea estate when we arrived. One of the leopards was badly injured after being attacked by labourers. While the injured leopard died, we managed to rescue the other,” Abhijit Bhawal, a veterinarian of the centre, said.

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