By Anjali Lukose
A male leopard was rescued from a house in Vasai (East) after a 7-hour secure-and-rescue operation by forest officials Wednesday.
The seven-year-old big cat had made himself at home under some firewood kept in the bathroom outside a chawl at Fatherwadi. A neighbour spotted the leopard around 6 am and informed the national park authorities, who reached the spot around 9 am.
The rescue team comprised 20 forest officials — a five-member expert rescue team from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), a five-member rescue team and 10 foresters from Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS). According to officials, the leopard must have strayed into the area from the sanctuary.
Forest officials struggled for around six hours to contain the surging crowd and secure the spot where the leopard was hiding using ply wood. The actual rescue operation took just half an hour, during which the leopard was tranquilised and moved to the trap cage, which concluded around 3 pm. The leopard was taken to SGNP for a medical check-up and was deemed fit to be released. “There were no injuries on the animal. But he was slightly stressed. He weighs around 65 kg and is fit to be released. We have put a microchip on it,” said Dr Sanjiv Pinjarkar, veterinary officer at SGNP. Lack of a microchip indicates that the leopard was caught for the first time, he added.
Forest officials alleged that there were hardly any police officers to help them manage the crowd. “A massive crowd had gathered and the leopard was stressed, making our work difficult. We had to spend a lot of time controlling them from further aggravating the animal,” said S D Saste, Assistant Conservator of Forests, SGNP.