The ‘panther’ panic continued in the hamlets around Shamshabad on the outskirts of the city on Saturday, with the elusive animal attacking and killing one more calf on Friday night. In the first suspected instance of an attack by a wild animal on Thursday also, a calf was killed near Chaudharyguda here.
According to the Forest Department officials, the second attack was reported about a kilometre or so from the first one. Amid growing concerns for safety among residents of surrounding areas, the department initiated steps to set up traps on Saturday.
Two traps from the Nehru Zoological Park were sent by afternoon and two more from Mahbubnagar were expected by evening. “Our rescue van with tranquilisers and veterinary staff has also been kept on alert,” said zoo curator, A. Sankaran.
The Hyderabad Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), D. Nagabhushanam said evidence including pugmarks from last night’s attack was also collected and sent for analysis. So far, no direct sighting of the wild animal has been reported.
A senior forest official who went through details collected from the spots ruled out the possibility of a tiger, as some initial rumours sought to suggest. “We are trying to decode the pugmarks and understand whether they are of a canine or a feline,” he said. It could be hyena or wolf from the dog family or a panther from the cat family.
From the collected evidence, pugmarks on hard soil were found to be slightly bigger than those lifted from the soft surface. This discrepancy has been causing hurdles in deciphering the marks, he said.
The Forest Department officials were working on ‘localising’ the animal by working out the route frequented by it. “The direction from which the animal is coming and going back has to be mapped. Since it is coming in the night and then disappearing into the dark, a direct sighting might not be possible,” the official explained.
Panthers usually follow a route or a track and avoid moving through bushes like wolves or hyena. Given the trait, the officials look to chart out the animal’s frequented path and lay snares. “Once that is done, we have to be patient and keep a watch,” he added.