Wild cat dies as capture exercise goes askew.
THE first day of the New Year for residents of Kolhapur literally started with a bang as an adult leopard came calling on them. However, the big cat died soon after a botched- up operation to catch it.
Officials' lack of equipment, expertise and planning marred the more than five- hour- long exercise to bring the wild cat under control. Further, the attempt to nab the animal turned to be so slipshod that it died soon after being made captive.
Morning walkers first spotted the cat at the elite Ruikar Colony in Kolhapur at 5.30 am. After the police were informed, they in turn alerted forest officials.
However, by then, a stick- wielding mob was thronging the area to lynch it.
In the chaos of people craning their necks to eye the cat and the police struggling to keep control, the agitated leopard injured one Ravi Mane while two others fell off their bikes and were hurt.
A Kolhapur police officer said, " Forest officials decided to capture it without rendering it unconscious as they lacked rifle and anaesthetic darts that could only be procured from Sangli, a distance of about two hours by road." However, the police officer could not explain why the area was not cordoned off.
According to wildlife photographer and enthusiast Kedar Bhat, nabbing the leopard from an open area without using cage trap is not only difficult but also dangerous.
Officials used large nets to trap the animal, which had taken shelter under an outdoor seating arrangement near local MP Dhananjay Mahadik's bungalow.
However, once nabbed, people failed to stop it from violently tossing and turning.
With the grip on the net loosening, the cat escaped as people ran to safety.
After some more efforts, it was captured again around 11.30 am.
Officials then decided to release it in the Chandoli National Park, located about 60 km from Kolhapur, but it died on the way.
Officials' lack of equipment, expertise and planning marred the five- hour exercise ( left) to capture the leopard ( above) that died soon after being held.
Morning walkers spot leopard in an elite colony in Kolhapur
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