KOLKATA: A full-grown leopardess that had been causing panic among residents in the Matidhan tea estate of West Bengal’s Darjeeling district for the past few weeks was captured by wild life officials on Monday morning. It was snared into a cage containing bait.
Speaking to The Hindu over telephone Sumita Ghatak, Divisional Forest Officer [Wild-Life I], Darjeeling, preferred to describe the operation as a “rescue” exercise. She said the animal was later released into the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.
Instances of leopards straying into tea gardens in North Bengal are not infrequent, Ms. Ghatak said. They enter the plantations from forests for lifting cattle and littering.
“We received calls from six tea gardens over the past six months of leopards having entered the plantations in the Kurseong and Siliguri Social Forestry sub-divisions”, she added.
Leopardesses prefer to deliver in the shelter of tea bushes that provide ample cover.
They are also drawn to the tea gardens which are considered safe from predators, Ms. Ghatak said.
The drains crisscrossing the plantations are much sought after by the leopards as well.
There have also been reports of the odd cub straying from the rest of the litter.
The wild life authorities, on such occasions, are informed and the cub is rescued, she added.