More than a dozen injured as wild leopard goes on rampage in India
At least 15 people were injured when a wild leopard went on a rampage in the Indian state of Assam.
The animals do not usually attack human beings unless provoked, but terrifying footage shared on social media on Tuesday showed the animal leaping over a barbed wire fence – much higher than the height of any human being – and launching itself at a moving van.
Those injured had been bitten by the animal, but were all expected to make a full recovery.
Officials said the animal first attacked forest officials at the Rain Forest Research Institute on the outskirts of the city of Jorhat, before fleeing the campus and entering into neighbouring villages under the cover of dense tea garden vegetation.
“Some residents had a close shave as the leopard was roaming in their courtyards. Many of the injured were bitten and needed hospitalisation, but they are out of danger now,” said Ranjit Konwar, divisional forest officer in Jorhat.
After a two-day search, the animal was successfully tranquillised on Thursday and will undergo a medical examination before it is released into Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, also home to the world’s largest population of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros.
A video posted on social media appeared to show the leopard trying unsuccessfully to pull a large tranquiliser dart out of its neck.
It is unclear why the animal attacked people without provocation – the Jorhat police described its behaviour as “erratic” – but it seems it had left the nearby Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary in search of food, officials added.
Human-animal conflict is on the rise in India owing to rampant deforestation and encroachment into animal habitats.
India is expected to surpass China to become the world’s most populous country next year and there is constant demand for new housing and public sector infrastructure, like water purification and food-processing facilities.
The city of Mumbai, which has a historic leopard population in its Sanjay Gandhi National Park, has also seen a sharp rise in attacks on people.
Many local residents blame the recent construction of illegal hotels and office blocks in forest territory for pushing the cats into the city to search for prey.
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