In a late-night coordinated operation involving forest department personnel, animal welfare groups and others, a three-year-old male leopard that attacked a man in Hadapsar was rescued after being tranquilised by a dart on Tuesday. The animal was believed to be hiding in a narrow space between two houses, 200 meters away from where the attack took place.
Officials said on Wednesday morning that the leopard has been taken to the transit treatment centre of the RESQ Charitable Trust and was in good health. It will be released into the wild “over next couple of days”, taking into consideration various factors, forest department officials said.
The attack was reported at 6 am on Tuesday near Gosavi Vasti, a residential area located at some distance from the campus of vaccine manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII), which is a central player in the global supply of Covid-19 vaccine.
The injured person, Sambhaji Baban Atole (45), a resident of Gosavi Vasti, is an employee of the Serum Institute of India and works in the civil department of the vaccine major. Gosavi Vasti is a densely populated area with mostly small houses.
After the incident, a perimeter set up with help from the police and people were asked to stay at home as far as possible. Multiple teams of the forest department personnel and other agencies were formed to patrol the area. At 9.30 pm, one of the patrol teams located the leopard, which was hiding in a narrow gap between two houses. Officials said the animal could have been hiding there since it fled from the attack site.
Teams comprising forest officials, veterinarians and experts from RESQ led the rescue effort. They initially closed all the escape routes of the leopard before tranquilising it at 11.30 pm. The leopard was then shifted to a transport cage and moved out quickly to RESQ Charitable Trust’s wildlife transit treatment centre.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) of Maharashtra, Sunil Limaye said, “Gosavi Vasti is a densely populated area in Hadapsar. If the leopard had gotten out, it would have created panic among the people. The Pune Forest Department and RESQ have great working coordination and so, the operation went smoothly because it was strategized properly, teams were fully equipped, took proper measures to secure location and all other stakeholders cooperated – police, public and media. Currently, at the transit treatment centre, the leopard is now alert and awake. He is a healthy young male aged between three and four years and has recovered well from tranquillisation.”
Limaye had told The Indian Express earlier that he had directed the installation of camera traps in the area to understand the leopard’s path of movement.
On Wednesday evening, Deputy Conservator of Forest for Pune Division Rahul Patil, said, “We are planning to release the leopard into the wild over the next couple of days. We are conducting health check-ups. The animal will be released after the check-ups are complete and conditions are suitable over the coming two days.”