Skip to main content

Marking its territory? Leopard stalks Indian city, injuring 7

By Euan McKirdy, for CNN
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 0149 GMT (0949 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Leopard runs amok in Meerut, north-east of New Delhi
  • Evades capture after being cornered in a hospital
  • Leopard also entered a cinema and apartment block
  • Increase in urban big cat-sightings sparks debate about encroachment on animal habitats

(CNN) -- The northern Indian city of Meerut was both panicked and intrigued by a leopard on the loose on Sunday, which has eluded captors since.

The big cat was found in a local timber shop before being cornered in a nearby hospital, local forest official Sushant Sharma told CNN on Tuesday.

Animal control experts were called to tranquilize the animal, which made a daring escape, breaking a window in the room to make its getaway. After breaking out of the hospital it went into a cinema and later also entered an apartment block.

Watch leopard make daring escape

Stunning photographs purport to show the leopard leaping across rooftops, squeezing through a hole in the wall of the Meerut Cantonment Hospital, and snarling at a baton-wielding official through a window.

Crowds complicate capture efforts

The cat sparked more inquisitiveness than trepidation as onlookers crowded around the site of the cat's incarceration, hampering efforts by the authorities to capture and release the leopard. "It got agitated and escaped," Sharma said.

But curiosity got the better of some in the crowd. Seven people were injured by the leopard, including a policeman who needed treatment for a gash on the shoulder.

No sightings were confirmed on Monday and Sushant did not rule out the possibility the leopard had retreated into the forests.

"Nothing happened (Monday). So, there are chances it could have gone back to the forests. But we are still trying to track it," Sharma said.

Leopard suspected of eating 15 people in Nepal

Human encroachment

The big cat looks out at a baton-wielding official from a hole in the Meerut Cantonment Hospital wall
The big cat looks out at a baton-wielding official from a hole in the Meerut Cantonment Hospital wall
A leopard runs through a built-up area of Meerut in Northern India.
A leopard runs through a built-up area of Meerut in Northern India.

The incident is the latest in a series of big cat attacks in India, including at least one alleged man-eater, also in Uttar Pradesh, home to one of the world's last remaining tiger habitats. A leopard also mauled a 5-year-old boy to death in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh last week.

The increasing number of sightings -- and attacks -- by big cats in India is raising the issue of human encroachment on wild animal habitats.

"There are many cases where human habitats are encroaching on those of big cats, which are getting lesser and lesser over the years," said Jimmy Borah, Tiger Coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund India.

"The cats are forced to come out of their habitats to look for food. There is lots of habitat loss and with that food source loss -- it's one of the main problems, which is why they are coming out."

Officials said at least nine people have died from tiger attacks since the end of December. Eight of those deaths have been blamed on a single man-eating female tiger.

"It is possible that the tiger came out (of her habitat) looking for food and the humans accidentally came out in front of the tigers, which would mean she would be bound to kill them. Maybe she was with cubs, and as tigers are very protective they will actively attack threats."

Borah said that in areas where there is no human encroachment, population numbers are stable. However, he agreed that if a particular animal was positively identified as one responsible for human deaths, "then one option is taking her out."

READ: 10 weirdest zoo animal escapes

CNN's Harmeet Singh in Delhi contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0430 GMT (1230 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park, said to be a pet project of secretive young leader Kim Jong Un.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex in France, agents caught up with Ibrahim Boudina, a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back Syrian-schooled terror to Europe.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT