A leopard has somehow wandered into the Indian city of Meerut, located near the capital of Delhi. Despite many attempts to sedate and capture it, the leopard is still on the loose after attacking people in its way. Officials are warning residents not to panic and to stay away from the big cat, since it has already injured seven people.
The leopard has been spotted in a hospital, cinema, near a mall and alongside an apartment complex. It was first reported in a timber warehouse in the city on Sunday afternoon.
According to the Press Trust of India (PTI,) panic ensued while the leopard roamed the streets and found its way into several different buildings. Schools, colleges, markets and other businesses closed in an effort to keep people safe. People have been afraid to leave their homes.
Large crowds slowed down the process of capturing the wild animal. Curiosity led people to the animal, despite officials warning people to keep their distance from the animal. Thousands of people filled the streets for a chance to see the wild animal. As a result, seven people were injured by the leopard. It attacked a police officer, a TV cameraman and a handful of residents. Only the cameraman was hospitalized, however, as most of the injuries were minor scratches.
Gajendra Pal Singh was the officer bit by the leopard. The wound required seven stitches, but he reports that he is fine and ready to get back to the task of catching the animal. In addition to the injuries sustained, however, crowds of people have interfered with the official’s ability to capture the leopard.
Officials are concerned about public safety because this is the second incident with a leopard in less than two weeks. Last week a different leopard was on the loose and it resulted in the death of a five-year-old boy. Earlier this month, a homeless man was clawed and bitten by a mountain lion on the loose.
The WWF conservation group is requesting improved management for habitats of large cats in India. According to a 2011 census, there are 1,150 leopards in the country. Officials believe this particular cat wandered in from the nearby jungle.
The Indian Army offered their assistance. Meanwhile, wildlife experts were brought in to tranquillize the leopard when it was spotted near the Abulane shopping center. They found it in the Meerut Cantonment Hospital and shot it with three tranquilizer darts, but that only made the animal drowsy. The animal was irritated by the large group of people surrounded it, including reporters and people with flashing cameras. It showed incredible strength and managed to escape once again.
The leopard is still on the loose in the Indian city. It is reported to be 10 feet long and weigh approximately 180 pounds. It was last seen on Sunday entering a movie theater. It has not been seen as of Monday, which has relieved some of their fear and panic of people who live and work in the area. Teams are continuing to search for leopard who seems to have disappeared in the city.
By Tracy Rose