Kathmandu, Apr 3: Nepal’s only international airport was today briefly closed after a leopard was seen moving on the runway, disrupting flight operations. The pilot of Buddha Air had informed the Air Traffic Control at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu about the movement of the leopard on the runway at around 7:45 am, said TIA spokesperson Prem Nath Thakur. “The pilot of Buddha Air informed us that he saw a leopard-like animal on the airport ground. We have called forest office officials,” Thakur said.
The leopard soon disappeared into the storm drains along the runway and a search is on to locate the wild animal. Security agencies including police, hunters and forest officials have been deployed to trace the animal. Thakur, however, added that they were unsure if the animal seen was a leopard. “We cannot say it was a leopard. It can also be a cat.”
The closure, which lasted for about half an hour, led to the disruption of flight operations. The international airport has some forested area on the northern edge. And this was not the first time flight disruption had happened at the airport to due intrusion by animals. Flights have to either overshoot or abort landing due to animals like dogs, monkeys and goat trespassing the airport area.