Young Leopard Wanders From Safety Of Forest Home
No sooner was a tiger rescued and pulled out of a well in Tezpur, India last week another wild animal encounter required the assistance of IFAW's animal rescue team in India just days following. Roughly about eight-months-old, a male leopard 'strayed' into a house in Digboi, obviously separated from it's mother and looking for easy prey.
In an act of quick haste, finding just the right moment, one property owner was able to lock the young leopard inside a building as terrified neighbors stood and waited.
The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) received word about the young leopard and proceeded to alert the civil authorities and forest conservation staff. In human-wild animal conflict situations such as this one, IFAW's animal rescue team is called in for assistance. When the group arrived on site, the decision was made to cordon off the area where the leopard was being held. As terrifying as it is to have a leopard hunting in your front garden, a curious crowd always seems to form hoping to get a better look!
A representative from the Digboi Divisional Forest Office said, "The leopard could have come from Upper Dihing Reserve Forest which surrounds Digboi. Conflict with leopards is not very common in Digboi; they occur mostly in tea estates."
After careful examination of the situation, IFAW's Dr Bhawal determined, "There was no option but to tranquillize the leopard. We used a makeshift pole syringe, using bamboo. Although, we had a cartridge-propelled rifle, we did not want to use it for fear of causing undue tissue damage. The animal was hiding under a bench. One group distracted it using a flashlight while I injected the tranquilizers from behind."
"It is not uncommon for grown-up cubs of big cats to venture into human habitation looking for easy prey. In a similar incident in May 2004 when an adult tigress had mauled a mahout riding a captive elephant, her two fully-grown cubs had ventured into a nearby village and killed several livestock. The cubs had to be caught and released in the forest," IFAW's Dr NVK Ashraf said. "The leopard released yesterday is not likely to return to human settlement, considering the trauma it must have faced amidst the humans."
The young leopard was released in the Upper Dihing Reserve Forest area, more than two km from the site of rescue. The IFAW rescue team does not feel that it's likely the leopard will return to human settlement given the trauma it had just endured among humans this time.
The incident highlights the increasing human-animal conflict situation in Assam, as wild animals are compelled to traverse through human habitations due to deteriorating and fragmented natural habitat.
In yet another similar case, an adult male tiger was sighted in Raha, Assam on Monday, where it killed and consumed a buffalo calf. It then moved on to Kampur; a few unruly locals attempting to disturb the tiger were injured. The tiger was last sighted in Raha. The Forest Department and IFAW rescue team are on stand-by for any situation that may arise.