By Taniya Dutta
This is the moment a leopard terrorised locals and mauled four persons after it sneaked into an empty school in northeast India.
The wild cat had taken shelter at the school building late Saturday night in Guwahati in Assam and was spotted the next morning by the watchman when he had arrived with some labourers for construction work.
The panicked men raised an alarm that ensued into a gathering of a huge crowd outside the school building.
The angry locals started screaming and chasing the male leopard.
This terrified the animal and it attacked four persons and also sustained minor injuries while trying to escape.
As news of the incident spread, a team of wildlife officials with veterinary team from Assam State Zoo comprising Bijoy Gogoi and Arindom Kishore reached the school.
For over an hour, the team struggled to tranquillise the fully grown leopard with darts and later took it to a nearby zoo.
Zoo divisional forest officer Tejas Mariswamy said the entire operation of capturing the leopard took about one and half hours.
Muraiswamy said: “When some workers, along with a watchman, entered the school premises to do some construction work on Sunday they spotted the leopard.
“Soon after a hue and cry was raised by those who spotted the leopard, a huge crowd gathered at the spot, thus agitating the animal further.”
“The men naturally panicked and they might have disturbed the leopard, after which the animal got agitated.
“Large gatherings of onlookers are indeed a problem in such operations. The animal became stressed and got agitated, complicating our operation.
“Despite the commotion, our team successfully trapped the animal and brought it to the zoo.”
The four people who were mauled were admitted to Gauhati Medical College Hospital and are out of danger.
The wildlife officials believe the adult male leopard was on the prowl in the area for the last few days, possibly in search of prey.
The city is surrounded by hills that are known to have leopard population.
The encounters between humans and leopards are increasingly rising, primarily because of deforestation on these hills but in winters, the encounters increase as the vegetation on the hills dry up.