Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Italy: Panther sighting (via Chad Arment)

Massa Marittima, Italy - Italian wildlife wardens were on Monday scouring the Tuscan countryside near Massa Marittima for a panther spotted in the area over the weekend.

Reported sightings by locals of the big cat were initially dismissed by officials, until Sunday when a patrol of the state forestry corps came upon the animal while it was sleeping in a shaded hillside embankment.

'I estimate (the panther) to be around 1.3 metres in length and to weigh around 70 kilograms. It is certainly young and healthy and appears to be well-fed,' said Salvatore Foti, one of the forestry guards.

The panther roused by the movement of the guards - one of whom managed to snap a blurry photograph - disappeared into the thick vegetation nearby.

Officials later advised residents in Prata, a small settlement on the outskirts of Massa Marittima, to stay indoors.

Wardens intend to sedate the panther and take it to a nearby animal centre.

Experts believe the animal may have been smuggled into Italy as a cub and then abandoned.

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