A five-year-old leopard, which had strayed into an Agra village and caused panic among locals, was captured by a wildlife organisation on Saturday, a Forest Department official said.The leopard was first spotted by some residents of Nagla Padam village in Sadabad, some 30 km from Agra, early on Friday.While returning home from their morning walk, two residents were reportedly attacked by the wandering leopard. On facing retaliation from the scared and angry mob, the big cat sought refuge on a tree.The incident was reported to the local police and Forest Department, who immediately alerted the Wildlife SOS team on their 24-hour helpline.Armed with safety nets and tranquilising equipment, a rescue team -- led by Baiju Raj M.V., Director Conservation Projects at Wildlife SOS, and including District Forest Officer Mukesh Sharma and a team of forest officers -- reached the village.The distressed animal was first sedated by a dart and then brought down from the tree and transported to the Wildlife SOS centre for a thorough medical examination.The leopard is currently under observation and will soon be released into its natural habitat, an official said.
Baiju Raj M.V. said: "We had to keep public safety in mind before sedating the leopard. With a huge crowd of nearly 2,000 people gathered, the rescue was extremely challenging."We are very grateful to the Forest Department and police officials for controlling the crowd and for their cooperation in safely bringing the leopard down from the tree and shifting it into our animal ambulance."Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder & CEO of Wildlife SOS, said: "The depletion of the leopard's natural prey base and habitat due to encroachment and deforestation is forcing them to seek out smaller preys closer to human settlements."This often leads to human-leopard conflicts which have violent and brutal consequences for both. It is imperative that we spread awareness among the public on issues of conflict mitigation, in order to sensitise people and encourage them to be more tolerant of wild animals."Gautam Singh, Range Forest Officer, said: "The scared and angry crowd was attempting to throw stones at the leopard before our team came to intervene. Rescue operations like this can be dangerous and need careful planning in order to ensure the safety of the animal as well as the people."