A leopard that caused scare among local residents near the Chal beach in Azhikode was caught in trap laid by the Forest and Wildlife Department officials here on Friday.

The leopard was caught in the trap arranged by the officials on Thursday evening after they identified its presence in the beach area on examining pug marks found in the area. Though the catching of the leopard offered a relief to the local people who had been scared by reports of its sighting in the beach area a few days ago, the caged animal appeared really scared as it sat in a corner of the iron cage away from presence of large number of curious onlookers.

According to the Forest officials, the leopard was caught in trap in the early hours. It suffered some bruises in its head when it moved around inside the cage in panic after it was caught. "It is a magnificent animal and our main concern is that it does not have any injury", a senior Forest officials told The Hindu. Fearing for its life, the visibly frightened leopard might inflict injuries on itself by hitting on the iron bars of the case, he said adding that any injury affecting its nails would affect its hunting capacity once it was released to the wild. The official also said that its sex was not yet identified.

The sighting of the leopard near the beach in an area having large number of casuarina trees was reported on April 27. Some local residents near the beach had earlier reported seeing a leopard-like animal. The presence of the leopard was confirmed on Friday after the Forest officials took the imprint of the pub marks and examined it.

The Forest officials here said that the animal would be taken to Muthanga where a veterinarian under the Department would examine it before releasing it to the wild. The officials also said that care would be taken to ensure that the leopard was not released in the territory of another leopard. They said that the Forest and Wildlife Department have people who know about areas with leopard population.

The caged leopard would be released in a 'fringe area' where there is only small population of leopards to avoid conflicts.

The officials also said that the State does not have large extent of leopard-inhabited areas. When asked about incidents of wild animals finding its way to human-inhabited areas, the officials said that suburbs of any urban area have vast areas of uninhabited land.Leopards and other such animals were expected to be found in such areas. Human being should learn to tolerate the presence of other animals, they said.

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