Maha: Leopard strays in residential area, rescued after 8 hrs

(Eds: Adding quotes of forest officials, locals) Aurangabad, Dec 3 (PTI) A leopard strayed into a residential area in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district on Tuesday morning, triggering panic among people, officials said.

The feline was trapped by forest officials after hectic efforts for about eight hours, he said.

Some morning walkers spotted the big cat in the CIDCO N-1 area shortly after 6.30 am and alerted police and forest officials, he said.

The leopard then wandered into a garden and two vacant houses in the area before being caught from one of those houses.

Six teams were formed and a tranquiliser dart gun was used to trap the carnivore, divisional forest officer R M Sontakke told PTI.

Ramkrishna Gosavi, a resident of Cidco area, who spotted the leopard in the morning, said, 'I saw some movement while taking a walk. I thought it might be a pig. But later, the animal jumped a huge height and ran with great speed.

That's when we realised it was a leopard.' Forest officials and teams of the city civic body arrived at the location around 7.15 am, another local, Jagdish Agrawal, said.

The leopard tried to move out of the garden but as residents raised an alarm, it ran away into a vacant house around 8.15 am.

'The leopard kept sitting there for about four hours and later scaled the compound wall of the house before venturing into the garden again,' Agrawal said.

The feline then strayed into a room of another vacant house where it was easier to trap it, Moinuddin Shaikh, a member of the forest rescue team, told reporters.

The forest officials used aluminium nets and plywood sheets to seal the room so that the animal won't come outside, he said.

'We then fired a tranquiliser dart around 2 pm. The leopard became unconscious in a few minutes and then we entered the room and shifted the animal into a cage,' he said.

The cage was then mounted on a tempo and taken to an office of the forest department here, he said.

There was a similar incident in the city around five years ago, Sontakke said.

'We had every equipment required for this operation.

We had called six teams from Sangamner, Amravati and other areas for the rescue operation, but managed to trap the leopard ourselves,' he said.

It was a joint operation by the forest, police, civic, zoo and fire brigade officials, he added.

'The leopard will be kept under observation for 24 hours during which it will undergo some medical tests before being released into the wild,' forest official R R Kale said.