GUWAHATI, Jan 7 � In what serves to underscore the worsening incidence of leopards straying into human settlements in the city, an adult leopard was tranquilized and captured from inside a residence at Santipur Hillside area today.
The leopard � and adult male � had serious signs of injury on its body and was bleeding when it was tranquilized by veterinarians and personnel of the Assam State Zoo.
�The leopard had grievous injuries � including on its body. Some of the injuries seem to have occurred from a trap where it probably got trapped but managed to free itself. It is currently under treatment in a serious condition,� a zoo veterinarian told The Assam Tribune. The leopard was captured around 12 noon.
Earlier, family members of Dharmeswar Sarma, a retired college teacher, noticed the leopard resting in the guest room of their house around 8 in the morning. Sarma�s wife who first noticed the animal � barely two feet away from her � acted calmly and did not raise any alarm. �I knew that the animal would be disturbed if I raised an alarm. It also saw me but its look did not seem malicious. I simply took a few steps backward and bolted the door,� she said.
Local residents alleged that though the Forest authorities were informed immediately, they took an unduly long time to arrive at the scene. A high incidence of leopards straying into the city�s residential areas in search of prey or driven by space constraint has emerged as a disturbing phenomenon.
The resultant man-leopard conflict, too, has taken a turn for the worse in the past few years. While there have been cases of leopards attacking people, actually it is leopards that have borne the brunt of the conflict, with a number of animals killed by mobs and dozens captured by the Forest Department.
Conservationists and foresters alike feel that Guwahati - once a stronghold of the big spotted cat � is no longer a safe zone for the animal and given the present trend, it is only a matter of time before it vanished altogether from the city landscape.
With the government authorities looking the other way, the once-dense forest cover in the city hills is fast getting replaced by human settlements. Matters have worsened in the past few years with various organizations clamouring for settlement in the forested hills.
Conservationists believe that the recent movement for granting of land patta (settlement rights) and the Government's favourable response was leading to more pressure on the hills in the form of encroachment. Matters have been complicated by the stiff � and even armed � public resistance to eviction drives, with the political parties and different influential organizations lending their weight behind the encroachers.