As the city is under lockdown due to COVID-19 outbreak, wildlife is reclaiming its lost territory. Three days after a video went viral of wild stags roaming near Sector 5/9 road, a leopard strayed into Sector 5 and took refuge at the house of a VIP — daughter of the late chief minister of Punjab (Undivided) Province, Partap Singh Kairon — on Sunday night.
A joint team of UT wildlife and Punjab wildlife department rescued the animal after a struggle of almost six hours. Senior veterinary doctor N P Singh and his assistant Ram Dev of Punjab wildlife wing used a tranquiliser to make the animal unconscious. Later, it was netted and put in a cage. Before tranquilising the animal, a small open portion of the annexe, in which the leopard had gone, was covered with a green thick net.
Sarbrinder Kairon Grewal, daughter of the late chief minister, along with her daughter and son-in-law is in Ludhiana these days. Their domestic servant Suraj Bahadur was in the house with his family. The house adjoins two houses — one belonging to the sister of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the other to an agriculturist. Sector 5 is opposite Sukhna Lake and Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.
Chief Conservator of Forest, Chandigarh, Debandra Dalai said, “Human movement is restricted these days. Sector 5 is hardly 1 kilometre from Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. CCTV footage shows the leopard roamed in the area the whole night. It was first spotted by human beings around 8 this morning. We will release the animal most probably into Haryana forests in the night.”
Suraj Bahadur said, “My wife Tara Devi was the first to spot the animal when it was sitting calmly in one of the corners in the backyard. She was scared to see such a large animal. She came running to me and I screamed that she had seen a big cat. I went to the backyard and realised it was tendua (leopard). I called the gardener of nearby house, Chote Lal, over the phone and informed him about the wild animal. Chote Lal took a look at the animal from his boundary wall. By that time I along with my wife and children locked ourselves in the room. But Chote Lal made a mistake. He threw a small object at the calmly sitting animal. As a result, the leopard got panicky and started running from one corner to another. I do not know who informed the police and wildlife department. Soon, a number of khaki-wearing people descended on the scene.”
Deputy Conservator of Forest Abdul Qayum said, “Till the time a team of UT wildlife department reached, the leopard had strayed into the backyard. Luckily, the leopard entered the annexe through an open wooden door. One of our staff members, Gaffur, did a commendable job. Without wasting a single moment, he bolted the door from outside. We put a cage near the door. We called Punjab wildlife department. A team of Dr N P Singh and Ram Dev arrived there. They were well-equipped. They covered the entire area with a net. Ram Dev fired a single tranquiliser shot with his handgun and the dart hit the hind leg of the leopard.”
The rescue team observed that the leopard became panicky and was desperately making attempts to escape. Sector 5 is a posh area in Chandigarh. Local residents preferred to stay inside their houses. Only their security guards, servants and a battery of mediapersons were present at the time of the rescue operation which started around 8.45 am and lasted till 1.30 pm.
Dr N P Singh, “Leopard was panicky but absolutely fine now. It is fine to be released into the wild.”
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