Animal keepers: We saw leopard jumping 25-foot-high fence

BBP staff say big cat was asleep till 4 am; probe to be conducted

Animal keepers: We saw leopard jumping 25-foot-high fence

Soon after news about the escape of the rescued leopard broke, Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Forest and Ecology, Mahendra Jain and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Ravi Ralph rushed to the spot and took stock of the situation. 

They made inquiries with three animal keepers - Krishnappa, Girish and Nagaraj Shastry -- who were on duty from Sunday night to 8 am on Monday. Girish told Jain that when he had checked on the leopard at 6 pm on Sunday and at 4 am on Monday, it was sleeping in the cage.

Shastry said that it was around 6.35 am when he heard Girish scream for help and he too saw the cage empty then. They screamed for help when they saw the animal jump the 25-foot-high fence of the kraal area and run towards the land abutting Bannerghatta National Park.

The heads of the departments were seen discussing with staff that it was not possible for the leopard to open the cage as it was securely fastened to a heavy weight that needs at least three people to dislodge. One theory doing the rounds was that the cage door may have been ajar, which allowed the animal to slip out.

Jain told reporters that staff on duty will be questioned in detail and the department was compiling possible ways of the leopard’s escape. “We will fix responsibility and the problem,” Ralf said, adding that the inquiry will take at least a week’s time.

After the recent escape of the Himalayan Black Bear, Jain said the zoo area was made safe and BBP was in the process of raising the height of the fence with metal sheets.

‘It poses no danger’Tiger scientist K Ullas Karanth told Deccan Herald that studies by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have shown that animals tend to go back to their home ranges. “Since leopards are territorial, the big cat may have had adjustment problems in the new place,” Karanth said. 

These big cats can travel 10-15 km a day. “Studies have shown that leopards inhabit 80,000 sqkm area of the state and are also found on the peripheries of farms and rural areas, where they prey on dogs,” Karanth said. “People have to accept it and not compare it to the maneater tiger of Belagavi. Stalking and hunting are different from biting in fear. It does not pose any danger, unless there is an accidental encounter,” Karanth added. 

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