No trace of runaway leopard; retd official warns it could return to City

Last Updated 16 February 2016, 19:52 IST

There has been no trace of the six-year-old male leopard which ran away from a three-layered cage in the rescue centre at the Bannerghatta Biological Park here early on Monday. 

Though Tuesday was a holiday for the BBP staff, they continued to search for signs of the runaway leopard. Sunil Panwar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), said they had found pug marks of leopard and tiger in the forest, but it was difficult to identify if they were of the runaway leopard. The BNP has a healthy population of leopards. 

BBP Executive Director Santosh Kumar said the teams were searching for the leopard in the periphery, but haven’t got any leads so far. 

Officials in the zoo and the forest department said the feline could survive in the wild and make its own territory. It could even be a new one, where there are no other animals. 

Scientist Qamar Qureshi from the Wildlife Institute of India said that if a glaucomised canine was missing, it shows the leopard had come to the periphery of urban areas searching for easy prey such as stray dog or dead animals. 

“In the wild, healthy males dominate prime territory, pushing out others to the periphery. This could be another reason why the animal strayed. The psychology of the animal plays a vital role in it. Leopards are very adaptive and smart and can survive with human beings in the periphery,” he told Deccan Herald. “But these are all theories, we’ll have to wait and watch.” 

Former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, B K Singh, said the BBP staff hadn’t taken the issue seriously. 

“I thought they took a good decision by keeping the animal in captivity, but they seem to have failed. Normally an aged animal will not survive in the wild. I have seen many cases where leopards were caught in Mysuru and released into the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve. They returned to Mysuru through urban patches and no one noticed. The same could happen here too,” he warned. Meanwhile,  Forest officials held a meeting with parents and staff of Vibgyor High at Varthur. 

They appealed people not to spread rumours nor panic about the leopard escape. 

(Published 16 February 2016, 19:52 IST)

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