Zoo officials rescue leopard trapped in bathroom after 8-hour operation

At 7 am on Sunday,panic gripped the residents the of GIDC colony near Vallabh Vidyanagar after a male leopard in search of prey,probably a dog,entered the area and injured a six-year-old boy in a primary school.

Written by Shubhlakshmi Shukla | Anand,(vallabh Vidyanagar) | Published: January 19, 2009 1:15 am

Big cat strays into human habitat and injures 6-year-old boy

At 7 am on Sunday,panic gripped the residents the of GIDC colony near Vallabh Vidyanagar after a male leopard in search of prey,probably a dog,entered the area and injured a six-year-old boy in a primary school.

The predator finally entered the house of a security officer and got trapped in the bathroom. It took Sayaji Baug zoo officials nearly eight hours and two tranquiliser shots to bring the leopard under control. They were later cheered at by the 5,000-odd residents of the area. It may be mentioned here that there is no forest circle in Anand district.

This is the second such incident in two years. A similar incident had occurred at Amitnagar Society of Karelibaug in Vadodara district,when a young big cat had entered a bathroom and was rescued after a five-hour long struggle. Another leopard had entered Mayo Hospital in Vadodara,which was deserted several years ago.

Sapna Singh,a witness,said,“My husband,who works as a security personnel with the Elicon Group of Industries,was out on duty at 8.30 am when this incident occurred.” Singh,who is a tenant,was washing clothes; and after she was alerted by her neighbour,she rushed into her room. The other neighbour was so scared that she refused to talk to the press. Singh,a mother of two children,said,“I held my nerve,as I knew that the leopard is inside the bathroom. I shut the entrance and waited for the rescuers to come.”

Ilyas Multani,who is Singh’s landlord,said: “The leopard was first seen near a neem tree behind Singh’s house. It then reached Elicon Primary School where it pounced on a boy,Mohammad Shaikh (6),injuring him on the chin and forehead. Later,it climbed the wall and entered the bathroom. Between 8.30 and 9.30 am,the police were called and the forest officials followed them.”

The door of the bathroom was about six-foot high and the ceiling was open,from where the leopard made its way inside.

S K Srivastav,Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF),Social Forestry,Anand,said: “This is for the first time that such an incident has occurred. Probably,the big cat intruded from the Mahi river canal nearby. Two days ago,a leopard was spotted near a bungalow at Anand-Borsad Road. It could be the same animal that entered the society. Vallabh Vidyanagar is a non-forest area and most of the experts in the rescue operation were from Vadodara.”

C B Patel,Curator,Sayaji Baug zoo,said,“Generally,one shot is enough to tranquilise an animal. But this leopard was very active and under stress,which is why two shots—one of 100 mg Xylazine and another of 150 mg Ketamine had to be given.” The first shot was fired at 2.30 pm and the other at 3.15 pm. Two cages had also been brought in as a precautionary measure.

“The leopard is now with the experts from Vadodara,” said Srivastav,refusing to give further details.

Leopard population in Gujarat

* Source H S Singh,Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF),Gujarat

The 2003 Census says there are 1,070 leopards in Gujarat alone; the national count is 1,400. It is facing a shortage of food base. In the Panchmahals Forest Circle in Vadodara,there are 360 leopards,while 40 are at the Madhya Pradesh border. “Anand is a non-forest area,but food availability can act as a magnet for the big cat,which can adapt to any climate or situation ,” said Singh. Leopards prefer easy prey like dogs and pigs that are found in the city. Such incidents are,therefore,becoming frequent. He said,“There is a possibility that the leopard might have entered Vallabh Vidyanagar via Mahi river while chasing prey.”

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