Agra: The team of forest department officials and NGO Wildlife SOS managed to rescue the leopard, which had entered a residential building in New Agra around noon on Monday, after a nine-hour long operation.
The captured spotted cat will be released in the Mohand forest range of Shivalik Hills in Saharanpur on Wednesday. The big cat was rescued from Suresh Nagar locality around 9pm on Monday. It was first spotted in the colony by a security guard around 11.30am. As the news of the leopard sighting spread in the area, around 4,000 gathered on the rooftops and neighbouring buildings to grab a glimpse of the feline. After officials managed to tranquillise the wild animal, it was taken to the rescue centre of the NGO. Senior forest official Sanjeev Sharma told TOI that they have received orders from the principal chief conservator of forest to release the animal in Mohand forest range.
Dr. Illayaraja, Senior veterinarian at Wildlife SOS said, "Rescue operations can be dangerous and need careful planning to ensure the safety of the animal and people. The leopard has sustained minor injuries on its forehead during the ordeal and has received treatment for it."
Due to encroachments and shrinking forests land combined with falling numbers of prey like deer, leopards sometime venture out of the jungle, explained forest official Sharma. "They prefer preying on dogs and goats in villages. There are chance of the leopard straying here from nearby forests. Generally, they move about at night," the official added.
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said, "This is fourth-fifth case in the last two months where a leopard has ventured into residential areas. There are chances that this leopard was displaced from its natural habitation due to human interference."
Talking about the large crowd that had gathered and the delay it caused in the rescue work, Satyanarayan said, "In sensitive situations such as this, the safety of the animal and people are of utmost importance, and the first step is to control the crowd. Once all the people are removed, then only can the rescue operation be carried out safely. Section 144 of CrPC should be imposed in such situations to ensure the safety of both the animal and people."
Meanwhile on Tuesday morning, a staff member at the rescue centre received minor injuries when he got too close to leopard while trying feed to feed it.
Last year, a similar incident was reported in Ramgarh area of Firozabad where a leopard had entered a house.
A fortnight ago, a leopard had made its way into the Meerut Military Hospital and came near the pediatric ward. Forest officials conducted a five hour combing operation and claimed that the wild cat had gone back to the jungle. But the leopard returned to the hospital later that day and was spotted by a patient.