The sixth and last leopard roaming in a larger enclosure meant for cheetahs in Madhya Pradesh's Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) has come out and sneaked into the wild, an official said.Six leopards had entered the acclimatisation enclosures before the arrival of eight cheetahs from Namibia in September. Five of the leopards were evacuated earlier and the last one left the enclosure on Friday.
"The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has informed as per camera traps that the last leopard came out of the enclosure on Friday," Kuno's Divisional Forest Officer Prakash Kumar Verma said on Saturday.
He said the leopard was roaming in enclosure number six. At present, cheetahs have not been released in this enclosure, sources said. The eight cheetahs were flown to MP from Namibia on September 17 under an ambitious initiative to reintroduce the fastest animal in the country. They were released into the KNP quarantine zone by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Earlier this month, three cheetahs – Obaan, Alton, and Freddie - were shifted from the quarantine area to the acclimatisation enclosure, according to officials. Obaan was released into the larger enclosure, spread over an area of five square kilometres, on November 18 while Elton and Freddie were moved to the acclimatisation enclosure on November 5, an official had said.
The other five cheetahs would also be shifted to the large enclosure this month, officials said. The eight cheetahs, including five females and three males in the 30-66 month age group, were housed in six 'bomas' (enclosures) after their arrival. The last cheetah died in India in Koriya district in present-day Chhattisgarh in 1947, and the species was declared extinct from the country in 1952.
( With PTI inputs)