Mangaluru: A six-hour operation launched to capture a leopard that was giving sleepless nights to people in Subramanya and surrounding villages in Karnataka's Dakshina Kannada district failed as the feline escaped through the roof of a local farm's toilet in which it was trapped along with a stray dog, officials said on Wednesday.
The stray dog is taken care of by local resident Jayalakshmi who was staying alone on her farm.
The leopard that came to hunt the dog during the night got locked up with the same dog in a toilet. However, the dog's presence of mind ensured it remained unharmed during the six-hour ordeal.
The leopard managed to give the slip when Forest Department staff broke the roof of a toilet to tranquilize it. The moment the asbestos sheet that served the roof was broken, the animal took a leap and managed to escape into the adjoining forest.
People from Subramanya and surrounding villages in Sullia taluk had breathed a sigh of relief when the leopard ended up in the toilet of Jayalakshmi's farm while chasing the stray dog.
Deputy Conservator of Forests (Mangaluru Division) V. Karikalan told IANS that when the leopard chased the stray dog which went into the toilet, the owner of the house immediately locked the toilet door.
"This incident must have occurred at around 3 a.m. but the Forest Department received a call only at 7 a.m. and immediately our staff rushed to the spot. The staff tried to capture the animal without tranquilizing it as the house is adjacent to the reserved forest area, but could not do it. When the tranquilizer team arrived and tried to remove the roof as part of the operation, the roof broke and the leopard succeeded in escaping," he said.
He added that the Forest Department had placed two cages in the event of the leopard coming back to the village. "Leopards are not like territorial animals like tigers or lions. They roam around freely and hunt freely. Therefore it is very rare to see the same leopard in the same place," he said.
He denied the claims that the Forest Department botched up its plan to capture the feline.
He added that it was a surprise that the leopard had not eaten the dog, its favorite prey. "Leopards relish dog meat, it is quite surprising, perhaps it might have been too panicked when it got locked inside the toilet," he said.
Local people who had gathered at the spot expressed displeasure over the failure of forest officials to catch the big cat.
The leopard was mauling cattle and dogs in several villages for the last one year and could not be trapped despite several attempts by the Forest Department.
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