Saraswatipur, March 23, 2015: Panic triggered in Saraswatipur village in Odisha, when Kunjalata spotted a leopard in her backyard early morning on March 23. She raised an alarm and soon the leopard was chased by the livid locals. The frightened leopard took refuge in a palm tree in the neighbourhood and remained perched atop that tree for the next 14 long hours.
A leopard on a palm tree is bound to attract eyeballs and soon angry residents from nearby areas rushed to the spot to catch a glimpse of the leopard, thereby causing much commotion. Some of them suggested that the Forest Department should rescue the animal through capture. Meanwhile, the leopard also seemed frightened by the sheer number of people who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the big cat.
The officials from Baripada and Balasore Forest Divisions had also reached the spot and were later joined by teams from Wildlife Trust of India and Similipal Tiger Reserve. The primary objective of the rescue team was to control the enraged crowd so that they do not approach the leopard out of fear or excitement. The Forest Department appealed to the public to not go near the leopard.
While it was obvious that the animal would come down from the palm tree when it gets dark, the team waited patiently for the animal to escape. To convince the crowd, nets were tied around the tree to show that efforts are being made to capture the leopard. The priority was to keep the public safe and allow the animal to escape. As expected, soon after it got dark, the leopard escaped without injuring anyone.
This is yet another example of how a wild animal can be allowed to escape without making any interventions. And the only thing that needs to be taken care of is the restless and angry crowd that is always baying for blood of the innocent animal.