Residents of Palwal’s Ramnagar Colony received a rude shock Thursday morning, when a leopard ventured into their midst and settled down inside the bathroom of a house. The animal was tranquilised and rescued by a team from the Forest Department, four hours after it was first spotted. Officials said it would be released back into the wild on Thursday night, after being kept under observation for a few hours.
According to Ramesh Chand, the director of a sugar mill in Gudhrana, who owns the house where the leopard sought shelter, the animal was spotted around 9.30 am.
“I live in Gudhrana, but have a house in Ramnagar where I have given rooms on rent to four-five patwaris. They were the ones who spotted the leopard. One of them had gone to the bathroom to relieve himself, when he saw it sitting there,” said Chand. “Though scared, the men had the presence of mind to quickly shut the bathroom door and latch it from outside. They alerted police and the Forest Department,” he said.
Forest Department officials said they were alerted around 10 am. While local forest and wildlife staff reached the spot by 11 am — along with a police team to control the gathered crowd — a team from Gurgaon reached the spot with the tranquilliser at 12.15 pm.
“The leopard was successfully rescued by a wildlife rescue team and a staff of 10 members, including a veterinary doctor, at around 2 pm,” said Vinod Kumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
Officials said the animal is a ‘fully matured male’, estimated to be ‘around three years old’, and weighs 55 kg.
“The leopard was brought to Gurgaon and has been kept under observation. If it is found to be healthy, it will be released back into the wild tonight,” said Kumar.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) for Gurgaon, Shyam Sunder Kaushik, who was part of the rescue team, said their task was simplified as the residents locked the leopard in the bathroom.
“This is a highly populated area and there was a large crowd, so there was danger of a conflict. However, this was prevented, and our task made much easier as the animal was already trapped in an enclosed space. We managed to tranquilise it from outside, before rescuing it and transferring it to the cage while it was unconscious,” said the DFO.
On why the leopard ventured into a densely populated area, Palwal Forest Officer Kiran Singh Rawat said, “Leopards never come into highly populated areas normally. The only reason is lack of water in the Aravallis.”
Although a first for Ramnagar Colony, this is not the first time a leopard has been spotted in a residential area in Haryana.
In October 2017, a three-and-a-half-year-old male leopard was spotted near Dungarpur village. It was rescued six hours later. In another incident earlier the same month, a male leopard ventured into the Maruti Suzuki Plant in Gurgaon and was rescued 30 hours later.