Black panther captured in Malaysia after spooking villagers
A wild black panther that had been spotted within the vicinity of a Malaysian residential neighbourhood in the state of Negeri Sembilan was captured by the authorities, putting residents’ safety concerns to bed.
The state’s Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) set a trap and managed to ensnare the wild cat early on Sunday, more than a week after it was first spotted, Malaysian media reported.
A family in Kampung Ulu Beting, Kuala Pilah had been puzzled by the disappearance of some of the dogs that lived on their farm earlier in September.
That confusion turned to fear when a wild cat was seen outside their home capturing a puppy that was under one of their cars, and taking it into a nearby jungle at around 11pm one night.
“We threw some firecrackers at the panther but it did not run away,” Ulu Beting resident Rusmazaiti Kamarulzaman had told Utusan Malaysia on Sept 11.
“We immediately called 999 for help... They told us to spend the night elsewhere for our safety as they feared the panther was still nearby.”
She added they last spotted an animal resembling the panther a month ago in August.
“We have been staying here for about two years after my husband retired from the army. We have heard about the existence of the panther from other residents who said it has to date never bothered any of them,” Ms Rusmazaiti said, adding that she had been worried about the safety of her two young children.
She was relieved after the animal was caught over the weekend.
“In the dark of the early morning hours, I thought the panther was just a small one. However, when the sun came up, I realised the black panther was rather large,” said Ms Rusmazaiti.
“Whatever it is, I am relieved that the panther has been captured.”
Negeri Sembilan Perhilitan director Nurul Ermi Ramli told Malaysian daily New Straits Times that the panther would be examined by the state’s Veterinary Services Department.
Ms Rusmazaiti, 31, said however, that it was possible that there were more wild panthers roaming the neighbourhood as other paw prints were found.
Another retired military man living near Kampung Gachong in Inas, Kuala Pilah had reported being visited by a black panther at his home in April, adding that the animal fled instead of attacking him.
Another panther was less fortunate in May, when it attempted to cross a road but was run over by a car whose driver could not avoid it in time. The driver and his passengers avoided any injury, but the 40kg animal could not escape death and breathed its last, moments after the collision.
Closer to Singapore, a black panther was also reported to have been on the run after escaping the Johor Zoo in 2002. It was later captured.
The Malay peninsula is widely known to be home to the world’s largest population of black panthers, estimated to be under 2,500 in 2020. Habitat loss and illegal poaching have led to its numbers dwindling, making it an endangered species, conservation researchers say.