GUWAHATI, Dec 18 - A full-grown leopard that strayed out of the nearby hills created panic in the Maligaon area here for several hours before it was tranquillized by Forest officials and staff around 12.30 pm today.
The panic-stricken leopard, which was surrounded by hundreds of onlookers, injured three persons, including a Railway Protection Force (RPF) inspector Mintu Ali. Ali, who was first taken to the Railway hospital, was later referred to the GNRC Hospitals in a serious condition. He sustained injuries on his head and face.
The Forest Department was informed about the incident and a Forest team, which included Assam State Zoo veterinarian Dr Bhaben Kakati, subsequently tranquillized the traumatized animal.
Dr Kakati said that the animal was a full-grown male, and the biggest captured in the city in the recent past.
�We arrived at the scene immediately after being informed about the presence of the leopard around 8.30 am. It was difficult to tranquillize the animal in the room where it was locked up. Finally, after trying for several hours, we managed to tranquillize the animal. We had to fire two tranquillizing shots for the purpose. It is a healthy animal and is now being kept at the zoo,� Dr Kakati said.
According to eyewitness accounts, the leopard was seen in the early morning hours inside the campus of the NF Railway headquarters.
�The animal was first spotted inside the NFR headquarters around 6 am. Later, it was again seen from around 8 am to 9.30 am when the headquarters campus had a noticeable presence of people. The leopard entered the central control room when commercial supervisor Subhankar Roy closed the door, confining the animal to the room,� NFR PRO Nripen Bhattacharya told The Assam Tribune.
Straying of leopards from the hills surrounding the city has been a common phenomenon in recent years. Conservationists attribute the phenomenon to the large-scale destruction of the green cover on the hills that has constrained the leopards� space, besides eroding their prey base.