Bhubaneswar, Feb 20 (PTI) An elusive leopard, which had sparked panic in Palaspalli area of the city for the past two days, was captured by forest personnel near Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) here early Wednesday.

The leopared was trapped in a cage near the airport area here and was released in the Chandaka sanctuary in the outskirts of the city after a health check up by veterinary doctors, Bhubaneswar City Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Ashok Mishra told PTI.

Panic had gripped the residents of Palaspalli after some locals claimed to have spotted a leopard in the area on Sunday night. A CCTV footage collected from the upscale area, which is also close to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s residence, had corroborated their claims.

Mishra said three teams comprising personnel from city forest division, Chandaka wildlife division and Nandankanan had been engaged in the massive operation launched on Monday to search, locate and capture the leopard.

All precautionary measures had also been taken by the forest officials to restrict the movement of the leopard and prevent it from entering into thickly populated areas, said a forest official.

The team members initially thought of tranquilising the animal, but subsequently the area was found inconvenient for this and six cages were set up to capture it, he said.

Around 10 trap cameras had also been installed at different places where the leopard was suspected to be hiding.

Mishra said a hen had been kept there to trap the two-year-old feline and necessary steps were taken in handling it as per the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the standard operating procedure, the City DFO said.

Director of Nandankanan Zoo, H S Upadhyay said the leopard was found to be in proper health and it was released in the Chandaka forest area adhering to laid down procedures.

The forest official said that sighting of a leopard is “unusual” in the city and the animal might have strayed into the area from nearby Chandaka forest.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.