The boat offers the comfort of leopard home in Alang de Gujarat

RAJKOT: A half-dismantled ship became an unusual new home for one of the largest ship cutting and recycling sites in the world.

The leopard, which had infiltrated the ship, an oil tanker named King Kong 3, was finally captured after a week-long fight by the forestry department on Friday.

However, rescuers were amazed to discover that the leopard had been living inside a dark compartment for almost four weeks. Alang, which is generally a bustling place with thousands of workers dedicated to cutting boats, has been a deserted place as work has stopped due to the closure.

Authorities said they found the remains of several dogs inside the compartment, leading them to believe that the leopard had easily gone hunting and was returning with its prey to its new home. The shipyard is a large open plot where stray dogs abound in addition to extensive farmland in the adjoining coastal area.

Sandeep Kumar, deputy forest conservator, Bhavnagar, told TOI: “The leopard had made a half-broken compartment of the boat his home. He used to go out at night and come back with prey. We have found dog carcasses inside the compartment.

The leopard was first spotted late at night last week by a security guard on plot number 153, where the boat was stranded. Initial efforts to cage the leopard failed and reassurance was not possible as it was very dark inside and rescuers were afraid to venture too close to the wild cat.

Meanwhile, when the Alang yard falls outside the boundaries of the Bhavnagar Municipal Corporation, the shipbreakers were allowed to resume work according to government guidelines. They made fervent requests to the forest department to capture the leopard, which had created a scare among all of them.

Since it was risky to enter the ship, rescuers first closed the lone entrance to the ship. With the help of the owner, they broke a small portion through which a veterinary doctor reassured the leopard.

There was very little oxygen inside and the leopard had made its place near cross ventilation. As a result, rescuers were able to detect it from the cavity and know its exact hiding place, added Kumar.

The leopard can survive on dogs, wild boards, nil gai, and other herbivores. However, this targeted the dogs as they were easier to transport inside the ship.

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