Residents of Palwal’s Krishna Colony received an unexpected visitor on Thursday morning when a “three to four-year-old male leopard” was spotted in the area a little before 7 am. In the six hours it took for officials from the forest department to rescue the animal, a crowd of over a thousand gathered in the colony to catch a glimpse of the animal, with many bringing their children out to admire the creature.
Unlike the incident that took place in Mandawar less than three months ago — where police personnel and forest department officials failed to manage a similarly large crowd, which eventually beat a leopard that had wandered into the village to death — officials from the forest department said the situation was handled much better this time round. Only one forest department official sustained injuries during the rescue effort.
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According to officials, residents alerted authorities after they spotted the animal in a park in Krishna Colony. In the meantime, the animal fled from the park and entered a vacant house. It returned to the park soon after, following which forest department officials used a tranquiliser to rescue the animal.
“The animal was finally rescued at 1.30 pm through the combined efforts of teams from Palwal, Gurgaon, and Faridabad,” said Shyam Sunder, the district forest officer (DFO) of Gurgaon, who was at the spot.
Officials said the entire operation took longer than expected since the veterinary doctor, “who must be present, by law, when the animal is tranquillised”, had to travel to Palwal from Sultanpur National Park, where he is posted.
M D Sinha, Conservator of Forest (Gurgaon Circle), said, “Unlike the incident in Mandawar, where several people were injured and the animal itself was killed, we managed the situation much better this time around. This was a major operation since Krishna Colony is a highly populated area, and a huge crowd had gathered. But with the combined efforts of the forest department officials and police personnel, and the cooperation of people, we managed to rescue the animal successfully.” Sinha, however, said the leopard’s presence in the area was a “mystery”.
Officials said the leopard will be kept under observation for 12 hours before being released into the wild. Sinha also attributed the success to “better training” being imparted to officials and greater awareness among people.