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The operation underway to track an elusive carnivore, suspected to be a leopard, on the prowl in Mayildathurai.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Forest Department has planned to deploy a thermal imaging drone to track the movements and location of a suspected carnivore on the prowl near Mayiladuthurai town, even as field-level teams have been mounting a round-the-clock vigil.

Pug marks of an animal found in and around Mayiladuthurai town suggest that it could be a leopard. Video grabs from surveillance cameras placed at different spots have revealed that it is an adult carnivore, said a Forest Department official. 

Officials are puzzled as to how the carnivore made its way into Mayiladuthurai as there are no hillocks or reserve forest anywhere near the bustling town. The animal was first spotted near Semmankulam in Koranad in the heart of Mayiladuthurai in the early hours, on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. It is believed to have moved towards Arokianathapuram a few kilometres from the town. A few pug marks have been found that suggest the carnivore is a leopard, said District Forest Officer, Nagapattinam, Abhishek Tomar.

The Forest Department has deployed field-level teams to track the movement of the animal besides carrying out patrolling on Wednesday night and Thursday. They have also made announcements to the general public to remain vigilant. 

The Forest Department has set up a control room near Mayiladuthurai. Experts from the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Coimbatore with camera traps and cages are expected to join the Forest Department teams to try and capture the animal.

Leopards normally emerge in the evening and night hours. Hence, the department has planned to deploy a thermal imaging drone to track the movement of the elusive animal. The thermal imaging drone, which is to come from Dharmapuri would be useful for surveillance during the night hours to trace the animal’s location, Mr. Tomar.

In view of panic, a holiday was declared for seven schools in Mayiladuthurai town on Thursday as a precautionary measure. Police protection was provided to four other schools to enable students write the ongoing class 10 examination, said official sources. 

Police sources said personnel were advising the general public in and around Koranad town to remain extremely cautious in view of the animal’s movement and to desist from sending their children out alone in open areas. Mobile teams of the Mayiladuthurai district police are also maintaining a vigil.

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