Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Where is the leopard? In the Kamla Nehru Prani Sanghralaya (Indore city zoo), in the forests nearby, or has it already been eaten up by a predator? Raising eyebrows is obvious with the rescued leopard missing from Indore zoo still not found even after 72 hours.
Cages were put up, halogen lights were installed and used for tracking. On Sunday, drums were played in the city zoo to scare the leopard out of its hiding place.
But no use… the leopard remains elusive as the hunt for it continues. With the leopard going missing for over 72 hours, Madhya Pradesh forest minister Vijay Shah made an urgent visit to the Indore city zoo on Sunday. He called upon all the forest officials, including chief conservator of forests (CCF) HS Mohanta to track the leopard and find it as soon as possible. While the teams were looking for the missing leopard, a group of visitors also turned up at the city zoo to celebrate a birthday!
‘Burhanpur forest team at fault, but priority is to find leopard’
‘Yes, the use of such cages is shocking. These cages are totally unfit for wild animals. The forest team from Burhanpur that rescued and brought the leopard in such a cage is surely at fault and the matter will be probed. It shouldn’t have happened. Right now, our priority is to find the leopard and help it. So, we want the forest team to work on finding it first. I’ll hold a samiksha meeting, after which we’ll decide on the cages, the forest team’s negligence and other matters’
— Vijay Shah, forest minister, Madhya Pradesh
Mesh broken, with a rain cover on it?
The mesh was broken, but the tarpaulin rain cover on the cage remained intact as seen on the CCTV. The question is how did he get out without lifting the cover? Was it really even brought to the city zoo? However, the driver who stayed with the leopard assured officials that he had heard the growling of the leopard as he entered Indore city zoo...
‘Tarpaulin sheet wasn’t torn at all’
‘The cage kept in the vehicle in which the leopard was brought was completely covered with a tarpaulin sheet till the morning. If the leopard had run away after breaking the cage, the tarpaulin sheet would also have been torn. But this wasn’t the case. Obviously, the leopard ran away somewhere along the way. Now, the zoo management is being blamed for the lapse’
— Dr Utam Yadav, city zoo-in-charge
Another attempt to track the leopard
To track the leopard using CCTV, finally, the city zoo authorities and forest team installed a new CCTV camera near at the spot where it was seen on the first night
Besides, the recording of the camera throughout the night was monitored. During this, the animal came on the periphery of the camera at least five times
‘When we looked closely, we found that the animal that came into sight was twice the size of a dog and thrice that of a cat,’ Dr Yadav
When the forest team complained to the minister about the non-functional CCTVs in the zoo, Shah assured them that he would look into it
Drums beaten to scare leopard out of hiding
The forest department team has been searching for the leopard for three consecutive days. On Sunday, CCF Mohanta was seen searching for the leopard with drums being beaten on the banks of the drain in the zoo and in other areas. ‘Animals are scared by the sound of the drum. Hopefully, the leopard will be caught after this’
Indore zoo officials are engaged in investigation on the basis of the CCTV footage. Only after scrutinising all the video footage from the time that the truck was asked to bring the leopard inside till the leopard supposedly escaped on Thursday morning will it be clear if the leopard was in the truck or not
Did the leopard escape from zoo?
The employee who had claimed to have seen a leopard also backed down. After news of the leopard’s escape on Thursday afternoon, around 4 am on Friday, a person named Brajesh, who works in an NGO, said he had seen the leopard running away. After this, the forest officials, along with the zoo-in-charge and 25 employees kept searching the area in the morning, but to no avail. On Saturday afternoon, Brajesh denied having spoken about seeing the leopard
Recording of officers also surfaces
The audio of the conversation between the in-charge and a woman officer of the Burhanpur forest division has also surfaced. In this, it was said that the leopard was brought to Indore by the female officer. At the same time, Yadav said the zoo employees leave at night. ‘Bring the leopard in the morning, as it’ll be difficult to shift it now. Despite this, the forest division employees spoke about leaving Burhanpur in the afternoon. The woman officer said they had reached Indore. After this, Yadav asked them to park the car in the zoo. The in-charge also asked the female officer what the problem with the leopard was. The officer said the skin on the leopard’s legs had come off. It was not a serious illness and treatment could be done in the morning
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