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Leopard creates panic in north Delhi village, caught after five-hour rescue op

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) A leopard strayed into a village in north Delhi's Wazirabad early on Monday, creating panic in the area and injuring eight residents before being tranquillised by forest department officials after an over five-hour-long rescue operation.

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According to officials, the leopard that was spotted in Jagatpur village adjacent to the Yamuna might have wandered into the area from the nearby Yamuna Biodiversity Park.

A forest official told PTI that the big cat entered the room of a house after injuring at least eight people in the village after which the room was latched from outside by the rescue team.

"After receiving a call in the early hours today, the divisional wildlife rescue team sprung into action and reached the location within 30 minutes. A plan to rescue the leopard was chalked out with the chief wildlife warden having granted permission to tranquillise the feline," the official said.

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Reacting to the incident, Delhi Forest Minister Gopal Rai told PTI, "Sometimes leopards stray into urban areas from adjoining parts of the ridge. I have directed the officials for monitoring the situation." Earlier, the Delhi Police with the help of residents managed to corner the leopard in the room from 8.25 am till 11.30 am.

The house where the big cat was held captive belongs to a retired government employee who along with his family members were not present there when the leopard managed to sneak in. His four grand children were sleeping in one of the rooms when the animal entered the house. "My daughters-in-law had gone to a temple in the morning when the leopard managed to sneak into our house. Thankfully, they had locked the door of the room from outside where kids were sleeping," said Mahender Singh, the house owner.

The forest official said the room where the leopard was locked opened into another room with two flanking smaller rooms on either side.

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Two veterinary doctors were positioned at each side of these flanking rooms with double and single barrel dart guns to capture the animal, the official added.

Upon opening of the room's doors, the leopard ran out in the other open room and was successfully darted by the veterinarians, he said.

Meanwhile, a large crowd surrounded the house to witness the rescue operation.

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According to the officials, the leopard had jumped from the terrace of a house in the Jagatpur village and barged into the next building where it was locked in a room. Some videos emerged on social media which showed the leopard being chased by some people and others running in panic.

"The rescued animal shall be handled further in accordance to the standard guidelines and protocols," the forest official said, adding that the forest department will be taking proactive steps to help mitigate human-wildlife conflicts through community mobilization and training programmes.

The Delhi government's forest department is working to develop a protocol for managing the incidents of man-animal conflict situations on the lines of one developed at Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai, the officials said.

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According to the Delhi Fire Service, information about the incident was received around 6.20 am and two fire tenders were sent to the spot.

"With the help of the locals, the officials locked the leopard in a room. The injured were sent to a hospital," DFS chief Atul Garg said.

A resident said the leopard was first spotted around 4.30 am and a PCR call was made at 5.15 am. It attacked over a dozen people and injured some of them, he said.

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Deputy Commissioner of Police (north) M K Meena said a call about the leopard entering a house was received from Jagatpur village, following which the local police reached the spot and forest department officials were informed.

Police said that eight people were injured in the leopard attack and three of them have been identified as Mahender, Akash and Rampal.

Seven personnel of the forest department, a team from the Delhi Fire Department along with the local police were present at the spot, the DCP said.

A local said the village is surrounded by jungle but there is no fencing or any other kind of security.

On December 1 last year, a leopard was sighted at Sainik Farms in South Delhi with some videos showing the big cat strolling in the lanes of the residential area. It was last seen on December 6 and the forest department believed it returned to the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

A week later, a leopard was killed after being hit by a car on the National Highway 44 near Khatushyam temple in north Delhi's Alipur. PTI BM ALK NIT SJJ VIT SJJ KVK KVK

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