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Starving leopard strays into Pune locality, dies after capture

It was a cruel end to a prize catch. A combined effort put in by personnel from Pune Municipal corporation...

It was a cruel end to a prize catch. A combined effort put in by personnel from Pune Municipal corporation, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation, fire brigade, wild life, forest department and the police went in vain as a male leopard died an hour after it was caught in a residential area of Pimpri-Chinchwad on Tuesday. It died on way to Katraj zoo from Ganganagar area.

The leopard’s post-mortem report said it died of starvation. “The wild cat suffered from liver infection and was starving when it appeared in Nigde from the nearby forest in the Maval region,” said Neelamkumar Khaire, director, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological park, on Wednesday.

High drama prevailed on Tuesday morning in Ganganagar area after the leopard was spotted by a resident in his bungalow located opposite the Mhalasakant College around 9.30 am. Within minutes, employees from PCMC zoo department, garden department and veterinary department descended at the spot. The frightened leopard sprinted from one bungalow to another with students and citizens chasing it. In the melee, seven people, including a traffic policeman, were injured.

It was Gorakh Newale, a labourer with PCMC’s zoo department, who finally halted the cat in its tracks. He pounced on the leopard, wrestled for a few seconds before helping officials cage it. Newale suffered injuries on his shoulders. The leopard was tranquilised and taken to Katraj zoo where it breathed its last.

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“We had given it two doses of sedatives. The leopard was making movements while being transported. But when we reached Katraj zoo, it was dead,” said PCMC’s veterinary department chief Dr Satish Gore. He said the sedatives were given according to the weight of the animal — around 70 kg.

PCMC’s zoo department chief Anilkumar Khaire denied that mishandling of the animal had caused its death: “No rope was used. We had caged it properly and safely. It was weak and in poor health. Worse, the animal seemed to have not had a morsel of food for days.”

“The intestines were empty and a little grass was found in the stomach pointing to starvation,” the official added.

First published on: 31-01-2008 at 12:38:50 am
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