In a shocking incident, an adult male leopard entered a classroom at the Chaudhary Nihal Singh Inter College in Aligarh district, Uttar Pradesh.
The big cat was successfully rescued after a four-hour-long operation by Wildlife SOS and Uttar Pradesh Forest Department official on Wednesday evening before being released into the wild later.
The students and staff of Chaudhary Nihal Singh Inter College in Aligarh were left in a state of panic after an adult leopard walked into a classroom on Wednesday morning.
The incident was immediately reported to the Forest Department, which called the Agra-based conservation charity – Wildlife SOS – for reinforcements.
Equipping themselves with safety nets, a trap cage and protective gear to carry out the operation, a five-member team from Wildlife SOS rushed to assist a team of forest officers in the rescue mission.
On arriving at the school, the team first ensured that all students and staff were safely evacuated from the building and all entry and exit points were secured. CCTV footage captured the panic-stricken leopard, scrambling from one classroom to the other in his bid to escape.
As the leopard was confined on the first floor, the team called for a bucket truck, often used for repairing street lights, to facilitate the team in locating the big cat.
Eventually, they found the big cat hiding behind a chair inside an empty classroom. They immediately blocked the entry door with a plywood board, while Wildlife SOS doctor Rahul Prasad immobilised the leopard using a sedative injection.
The leopard, estimated to be a six-year-old male, was carefully shifted to a trap cage and later released in the Shivalika forest division in Saharanpur.
Veterinary officer Rahul Prasad said, “The leopard was a healthy male, estimated to be six years old. Such rescue operations are highly sensitive and need careful planning in order to ensure the safety of the animal as well as of the people. The leopard kept running between classrooms, which made the rescue operation more challenging.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS, said, “We are grateful to the Forest Department for making this rescue operation a success. Such incidents are a direct result of loss of forest cover and encroachment, leading to depletion of natural prey base and habitat, which in turn forces wild animals like leopards to venture into human settlements in search of food and shelter. This often leads to human-leopard conflicts, which have violent and brutal consequences for both humans and wildlife.”
Aditi Sharma, Conservator of Forests (Aligarh), said, “The leopard must have sought shelter inside the college at night and was first sighted near the staircase. On hearing about the incident, our team rushed to the location and immediately evacuated the students and staff, before cordoning off the area with safety nets. Wildlife SOS assisted us in the safe rescue and release of the leopard.”