Residents of ONGC Colony, Poonam Nagar, Jogeshwari (East), woke up startled and shocked at 4.30am on Monday as a female leopard strolled into the OB-I wing of the colony.
The leopard, according to forest officials, may have strayed outside Aarey Colony that is barely 1.5 km from ONGC colony, following prey. First spotted by security guards Sheikh Sanaullah and Ramesh Singh Yadav, the wild cat jumped into the colony premises from a tree at 3.45am and walked into the OB-I wing where it sat in the space below the first flight of stairs on the ground floor.
After an anxious wait of five hours that ended at 9.20am, the leopard was tranquilised and taken away in a cage by a six-man team from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). This is the fourth incident of a leopard straying into dense human habitation this year.
“We blocked the leopard’s escape route using plywood and then shot it with a tranquilliser dart. The leopard was not aggressive at all,” said Santosh Saste, assistant conservator of forest, SGNP.
The security guards were the ones to inform the colony residents about the leopard’s presence on the premises. “I saw the leopard walk across the garden into the building. The building’s secretary informed the police, who then informed the forest officials. The leopard tried to escape around 5am, but on seeing a lot of people, it went back in,” Sanaullah said.
Residents, of course, avoided using the staircase. “As it was sitting quietly under the staircase, we tried not to disturb it. We have never seen any leopard in the colony before,” said Kishore Kumar, general secretary, ONGC colony.