It’S not often that you hear a five-year-old wanting to stay back in school after classes. But, in the case of the leopard that ventured in to the National Education Society school in Mulund (W) on Saturday, its desire to hang about in the school premises came to an abrupt end, within 24 hours of its sighting.
Officials from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) safely detained it and took it to an undisclosed location in SGNP, where the feline has been placed under observation and will be released probably after a small lecture. The leopard was spotted on Saturday morning in the basement of the school by a construction worker who saw it lurking around and raised an alarm. By afternoon it was contained in the basement.
A preliminary search of the area by a forest department team from SGNP had been unfruitful, but traps were set up, in the hopes of catching the leopard overnight. Authorities set up a cage near the basement entrance, using hens as live bait to lure the leopard. The best part of the rescue was that the forest department did not have to tranquilise the leopard as it walked into the cage itself.
Chief Conservator of Forests and SGNP director Sunil Limaye said, “Yesterday, at around 5 am, the leopard walked into the cage after which we safely brought it to the park for a medical analysis. After fixing an electronic microchip in its body, we will release it back safely in the forest.”
According to biologist and wildlife expert Vidya Athreya said, “It is good that the leopard was safely rescued from the school. As a protocol the medical analysis and examination of animal is done to see that it has not suffered any injuries during the rescue. Inserting a microchip in its body will help a lot, and if it’s found again, we can identify it through the chip.”
Dr Vinaya Jangle, a veterinarian who performed the medical analysis on the leopard, said, “The leopard, a 5-year-old male is quite healthy and uninjured. It had not strayed into human settlement due to lack of food, because the forest has sufficient herbivores for it to feed on. It is likely that the increase in dog population, and dogs being easy prey, attracted the leopard here. The leopard is still in our custody, and the decision to release it will be taken by senior authorities.”
Did you know?
The microchip is a grain-sized chip embedded at the point where the animal’s tail is attached to the body. The chips are uniquely numbered and can be read like a barcode in the supermarket. The technology helps keep track of animal movements and is already in use in the state.