Terrified residents of Laxmi Nagar a residential colony located on the outskirts of Nasik the city spent seven panic stricken hours in terror after a leopard strayed into the locality in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The incident also brought to the fore the unpreparedness of the district authorities, who were armed with a tranquilizer gun as well as traps, in safely snaring the wild cat which managed to roam free for nearly seven hours.
The leopard was finally caught after being badly beaten by the local residents. The two-year-old leopard later succumbed to his injuries while being treated for his injuries.
A newspaper vendor who was on his morning round at Laxmi Nagar, a middle class locality, first spotted the leopard in a narrow lane. The spotting created a commotion with a large number of local residents coming out to watch the animal. Nearly 150 policemen and forest officials also reached the spot the trap the animal and control the surging crowd.
The officials did everything including shooting tranquilizer darts to setting off firecrackers to make the leopard come out in the open. Due to the commotion the leopard by then had taken up shelter near a under construction bungalow.
The panic stricken leopard in his bid to flee also attacked and injured four local residents. The leopard was finally brought down after a local youth hit him with a bamboo stick. The injured animal was then taken away by the forest officials to the outskirts of the city. The animal however succumbed to his injuries while being treated.
"The post mortem report suggests that the animal died due to traumatic shock. Even though we have not yet filed a case against any one in this matter we will be carrying out a thorough inquiry," Assistant Conservator of Forest Nasik Sub Divison Kamruddin Sayyad told HT.
This is the second such case of a leopard straying into a residential locality in the city in the last three years. In 2004 a leopard had managed to enter into a hotel on the Mumbai-Agra highway.
As per the census 2006 census carried out by the forest department, there are 14 leopards in the district. Most of these leopards stay in the numerous sugar cane farms located in the district.
"It is harvesting season for sugarcane. This is taking away the leopards cover who prefer to stay in these farms. There is a danger that we could see more such cases of leopards straying into the city due to this," a forest official who did not wish to be identified said.