Bhubaneswar: After coming under criticism from wild life activists, authorities in Odisha Wednesday released a leopard into the wild, a month after it was captured by officials from a human habitation.
The leopard was released in the forested area near Rairakhol in Sambalpur district, about 231 km from here, senior wild life official Kamal Purohit told IANS.
The move came a day after the state’s Forest and Environment Minister Bijayshree Routray said he was keen to send the big cat back to its natural habitat.
After taking charge as the forest and environment minister Monday, Routray said the release of the leopard would be his first job.
The male leopard had entered a shop in the district headquarters town of Sonepur, about 280 km from here, July 4 from the nearby forest. The wild cat was rescued by forest and wildlife officials a day later and shifted to a forest department nursery in the same town.
The forest department July 6 brought the caged animal to the residence of the district collector, where a “leopard show” was organised for the public.
The leopard was subsequently shifted to Nandan Kanan Zoo on the outskirt of state capital Bhubaneswar.
Wildlife activists have been accusing the government of violating the leopard rescue guidelines and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, which says such animals should be released into the wild and prohibits their public display.