09 October 2006 21:13 - (SA)
Addis Ababa - A prowling leopard has sent chills down the spines of British embassy staffers in Ethiopia after it devoured several pet cats and rabbits in the sprawling facility, said officials on Monday.
Embassy authorities said they were hunting the stealthy feline with the intent of capturing it alive after it was first sighted two weeks ago in the vast 70-acre compound, which is also home to other wild animals.
"There have been confirmed sightings of the leopard. At the moment, we are making sure to neutralise it and to ensure the safety of our staff," said embassy spokesperson Holly Tett.
"The embassy compound has always been a home for wildlife in Addis Ababa. We want to preserve this heritage," she added.
The leopard has also been spotted hunting during the day, but forays into staff residences for easy prey have caused the most panic in the compound.
'It is very beautiful'
"I've got two small children, so I'm quite worried at the moment," said a resident in the compound who declined to be named.
"I'm not letting the children out. It has already eaten domestic cats and rabbits so I'd rather be cautious.... I'm quite terrified."
"It is very beautiful, it is huge... it has been seen outside a house chasing a fox at 10:00 the other day, which is a bit scary," the worried parent related.
"Before it had only been seen at night time."