In the early hours of Thursday, a sense of fear gripped residents in Chikhli, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune, as an adult leopard ventured into the residential area.
The presence of the big cat was reported by locals around 4:50 am, prompting a swift and well-coordinated response from authorities.
Forest officials, police personnel, the fire brigade, and members of the RESQ Charitable Trust initiated a five-hour operation to safely tranquillise and rescue the leopard.
Residents were urged to stay indoors to avoid crowding, minimising potential stress on the feline.
Senior Inspector Dnyaneshwar Katkar, from Chikhli police station, shared that the leopard initially entered the Sonawane Vasti area in Chikhali. Initial attempts to capture the leopard in a godown proved unsuccessful, leading to its isolation on a farm.
"Efforts were made to capture the leopard at a godown, but the feline gave the rescuers the slip. It was then isolated on a farm. Eventually, the leopard was tranquilised with a dart and successfully rescued around 10 am," said Katkar.
The entire operation transpired without any injuries, ensuring the well-being of both the residents and the leopard. Nachiket Upadhyay of RESQ Charitable Trust expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts of all involved agencies in ensuring the safe darting and rescue of the leopard.
Authorities now plan to conduct a thorough health assessment before releasing the leopard back into its natural habitat.
'Man Vs Wild'
A 5-year-old girl recently fell victim to a leopard attack in Alandi, underscoring the escalating instances of such incidents in the Pune district. The rise is often attributed to urban development encroaching into forested areas, disrupting natural animal corridors and leading to wildlife encroachment into human-inhabited regions.
In response to these concerns, Shirur MP Amol Kolhe advocated for government-level policies to control leopard reproduction, particularly following an incident where a four-year-old boy was attacked in Junnar taluka. Kolhe emphasized the urgency, stating, "When unfortunate news of human-leopard conflict emerges, it underscores the need for government-level policies to control leopard reproduction! I am continuously raising this issue in Parliament."
Even in the recently launched, protest from Shivneri Fort, one of the highlighted concerns is the necessity for an uninterrupted power supply during the daytime in talukas prone to leopard attacks, crucial for supporting agricultural activities.
Recently, Deputy Chief Minister and Guardian Minister Ajit Pawar distributed compensation checks for domestic livestock losses due to wild animal attacks, with 25 pets of 10 livestock owners succumbing to leopard and wolf attacks in 2023, totalling 3 lakh 64 thousand rupees.