Fierce feline prowls Infy campus

After two-hour operation, leopard caught and released in nearby forest

The wild feline’s incursion into the sprawling acres of the software giant’s campus caused not just panic among its employees but evoked some respect for an animal that is elusive and secretive.

The leopard was first spotted on the periphery of the 150-acre campus early in the morning by a security guard. Seeing the big cat, he shot off a round in the air from his double-barrel gun to alert fellow guards who patrol the length and breadth of the campus. The import of the shot was enough to frighten the leopard which then ran for cover in a warehouse (near Gate No 3) that stored building material.

As some construction labourers in the area screamed ‘chiradhe’, ‘chiradhe’, a few Infosys employees living in a residential facility about a furlong away watched the drama from their respective verandas.

Some roused their colleagues from their asleep. Soon, a crowd gathered to watch the security guards and forest department personnel and policemen, who had been summoned by that time, attempt to capture the scared feline.

About 20 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) men who guard the Infosys campus joined in the operation and restricted some of the employees from getting anywhere close to the place where all the action took place.

After a two-hour-long operation, the foresters and the police, who were led by Narasimharaja division Assistant Commissioner A K Suresh, were able to locate the big cat and tranquilise it. But not before Prashanth, a photographer who works for Infosys, was injured in his palm when the leopard used one of its paws to fend him off in its hiding place. The animal reacted in defence when Prashanth aimed his camera at it to take its photographs.

Some awestruck Infosys employees, who watched the leopard captured, recalled how a seven-foot-long python was found on the fringes of the campus in November last year.

The Infosys campus is not the only place that has had brushes with wildlife incursion. On April 18, 2009, a leopard entered the Sri Siddhartha Institute of Technology at Marlur in Tumkur. It was was captured after being tranquilised and subsequently released into the wilds.

While being taken to the forests in Pujekallu, between Antarsanthe and Nagarhole National Park, where it was to be released, the three-year-old leopard suddenly woke up from its deep slumber, caused by the tranquiliser shots, leapt out of the jeep near a petrol bunk in H D Kote town.

Forest department and police sources said the driver of the jeep, in which the drugged animal was being carried, had stopped at the petrol station to refuel the vehicle when employees of the bunk, customers and residents were shocked to see a leopard ambling across the road.

It started running when the foresters and curious onlookers started following it. The leopard, whose run was slow because it still appeared to be under the influence of the tranquiliser, stopped by a house on the Mysore-Manandawadi Road where its pursuers caught up with it. A net was used to capture the feline before it was released released in the wilds.

According to Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens Executive Director Markandaiah, big cats stray into places of human habitation because their natural habitats have been destroyed and their corridors of movement disrupted by human activity. “As predators, they some times sneak into areas of human population to prey on cattle and dogs,” Markandaiah explained.

Deputy Conservator of Forests Yathish Kumar said the BEML campus around the Hebbal Industrial area is known to host a few leopards.  The region where leopards were found in abundance several years ago was the Bastipur reserve.

Both Kumar and Conservator of Forests Kushalappa agree that leopard intrusion into human habitats was primarily because of search of food which has shrunk in the wilds because of shrinking forest cover and rapid urbanisation.

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