Spotted? Indian Police Say Leopard-Like Animal at Swearing-in Was Cat 

This screen grab of a video footage taken and released on June 9, 2024 on the Narendra Modi YouTube Channel shows an animal (C, top) prowling around during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. (Narendra Modi YouTube Channel/AFP)
This screen grab of a video footage taken and released on June 9, 2024 on the Narendra Modi YouTube Channel shows an animal (C, top) prowling around during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. (Narendra Modi YouTube Channel/AFP)
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Spotted? Indian Police Say Leopard-Like Animal at Swearing-in Was Cat 

This screen grab of a video footage taken and released on June 9, 2024 on the Narendra Modi YouTube Channel shows an animal (C, top) prowling around during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. (Narendra Modi YouTube Channel/AFP)
This screen grab of a video footage taken and released on June 9, 2024 on the Narendra Modi YouTube Channel shows an animal (C, top) prowling around during the oath-taking ceremony at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. (Narendra Modi YouTube Channel/AFP)

As India's government took the oath of office at the presidential palace flanked by honor guards, a fleeting sight was spotted -- an apparently leopard-like animal prowling past.

The animal was seen crossing through the highly guarded palace in the heart of the capital New Delhi, moving within a whisker of red carpeted steps just above where scores of India's newly elected lawmakers sat, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Apparently unnoticed at the time, as the soldiers stood at attention and a lawmaker signed documents after swearing allegiance to the constitution, the creature was highlighted by eagle-eyed viewers online.

Local broadcaster NDTV called the animal "mysterious", posting a viral clip of the sandy-colored beast taken from footage of the event screened live on Indian television Sunday evening.

It was seen for less than four seconds on screen, moving in the shadows and making it hard to identify spots, stripes or other markings.

But Delhi's police on Monday flatly rejected any "wild animal" theories -- issuing a statement to stem speculation.

"The animal captured on camera is a common house cat," it said in a post on X. "Please don't adhere to such frivolous rumors."

A crowd of thousands including South Asian heads of state attended the ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan palace in Delhi, and millions more watched live on television.

India's media on Monday was earlier divided on the long-tailed animal.

The Hindustan Times described it as "a four-legged furry friend".

The Times of India hedged its bets and called it a "cat-like creature".

Street dogs and cats are common in Delhi, but rarely of the apparent size seen in the video.

Leopards too are occasionally spotted in wilder corners on the outskirts of the city.

The sprawling grounds of the presidential palace abut the Delhi Ridge forest, a thick tangled park.

Rapid development has largely isolated the Ridge forest, but it was traditionally an extension of the Aravalli hills.

The rugged range runs for hundreds of kilometers south into Rajasthan, home to tigers in reserves.

There are no cheetahs in Delhi.

The last Asiatic cheetah to roam the sub-continent was believed to have been hunted down in 1947 by an Indian prince.

Last year, cheetahs brought from Namibia were released into the wild in Kuno National Park, a wildlife sanctuary in central India.



Greece Battles Wildfires Fanned by Gale Force Winds

A plane drops water during a wildfire, in Kitsi, near the town of Koropi, Greece, June 19, 2024. (Reuters)
A plane drops water during a wildfire, in Kitsi, near the town of Koropi, Greece, June 19, 2024. (Reuters)
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Greece Battles Wildfires Fanned by Gale Force Winds

A plane drops water during a wildfire, in Kitsi, near the town of Koropi, Greece, June 19, 2024. (Reuters)
A plane drops water during a wildfire, in Kitsi, near the town of Koropi, Greece, June 19, 2024. (Reuters)

Hundreds of firefighters struggled on Saturday to contain wildfires fanned by gale force winds on two Greek islands and in other parts of Greece, as authorities warned many regions face a high risk of new blazes.

More than 30 firefighters backed by two aircraft and five helicopters were battling a wildfire burning οn the island of Andros in the Aegean, away from tourist resorts, where four communities were evacuated as a precaution.

"More firefighters (are) expected on the island later in the day," a fire services official told Reuters, adding there were no reports of damage or injuries.

Wildfires are common in Greece, but they have become more devastating in recent years amid hotter and drier summers that scientists link to climate change. A wildfire near Athens last week forced dozens to flee their homes, which authorities said they believed was the result of arson as well as the hot, dry conditions.

Meteorologists say the latest fires are the first time that the country has experienced "hot-dry-windy" conditions so early in the summer.

"I can't remember another year facing such conditions so early, in early and mid-June," meteorologist Thodoris Giannaros told state TV.

On Friday, a 55-year-old man died in hospital after being injured in a blaze in the region of Ilia on Greece's Peloponnese peninsula, as several fires burned on Greece's southern tip.

Several hundred firefighters have been deployed to battle more than 70 forest fires across the country since Friday. High winds and hot temperatures will extend the risk into Sunday, the fire service said.

Earlier on Saturday, firefighters tamed a forest fire on the island of Salamina, in the Saronic Gulf west of Athens, and another about 30 kilometers east of the capital.

After forest fires last year forced 19,000 people to flee the island of Rhodes and killed 20 in the northern mainland, Greece has scaled up its preparations this year by hiring more staff and stepping up training.