A WEEK-LONG search by the UT’s forest and wildlife department to trace a leopard spotted by visitors last week at the Sukhna Lake forest area ended on Monday, with the officials not finding any evidence about the presence of the animal.
The entry to the forest area had been closed since last week. The reports of a leopard being spotted set alarm bells ringing in the forest department which also prompted them to launch a search operation and close the entry.
“I have issued directions to reopen the area to public from tomorrow,” UT’s Chief Conservator of Forests Santosh Kumar told Chandigarh Newsline. “I received reports that nothing was found in the search operation.”
He said the department received a complaint last week from some visitors who spotted a leopard inside the area.
“We were worried about the security of the children who visit the sanctuary. We have to ensure that no leopard was present inside,” said Kumar.
The search team did find a few pugmarks inside the forest, but not of a leopard. “We believe that the pug marks were of a big dog,” he said.
This is for the first time that the department has received reports about a leopard being spotted inside the area. Currently, there are no CCTV cameras installed inside the forest.
However, officials said the possibility of a leopard entering into this area can’t be ruled out. “The area is very close to Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. Entering of a leopard inside the area can’t be ruled out,” said a forest official.
Around 200 people visit the area on a daily basis. The department till late Monday afternoon had deployed its men on one of the routes through the Sukhna Lake to restrict the entry.
A forest department employee guards the Sukhna Lake forest area. Jaipal Singh