Leopard Found Inside a School Canteen, Rescued in a Nail-Biting Operation

July 15, 2021 | By Raashi Dev

A surprise visitor lead to one of the most bizarre extractions in the history of Wildlife SOS! 

As schools continue to remain shut owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, an oblivious leopard jumped through the kitchen window and made itself at home in the canteen of a local government school in Takali Dhokeshwar village, Maharashtra. This unexpected guest startled the maintenance staff of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya while they were busy with a clean up of the premises. The frazzled crew immediately shut the canteen doors and windows from outside and contacted the Forest Department. The Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar were also alerted to this incident. 

The leopard entered through a kitchen window and hid inside the school canteen. Photos (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas.

Equipped with safety nets, a trap cage and protective gear to carry out the mission, our five-member team rushed to assist the forest officers in the rescue operation. Upon arriving at the school, we first ensured that all entry and exit points were secured before carefully setting the recovery plan in motion. In the meantime, the panic-stricken leopard kept scrambling from one corner of the room to the other in an effort to escape. 

The rescue team gearing up for the extraction. Photos (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas.

The rescue team cut a hole in the entry door of the canteen so they could insert a camera and torchlight to get a clear visual of the exact location of the leopard. Once they confirmed its position, Wildlife SOS veterinary doctor Dr Nikhil Bangar immobilised the leopard using a sedative injection through the hole. 

Our veterinary doctor Dr Nikhil Bangar immobilised the leopard using a sedative injection through the hole. Photos (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas.

In another heroic success story, the leopard was finally relieved and safely shifted to a trap cage and transferred to the Wildlife SOS Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar for medical care and observation. The leopard, estimated to be a 7 to 8-year-old male had wounds all over his body that were at risk of becoming septic in the damp weather.

A thorough medical examination revealed that the leopard had scratch marks and wounds on the head, ear, neck, chest and tail regions. These injuries indicated that he must have gotten into a territorial fight with another male and had rushed to find shelter inside the school. The wounds were immediately treated with topical ointments, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication to help alleviate the pain. The leopard also had quite a few ticks on his body so we carefully removed them and provided medication to prevent further infestation.

For the next few days, the leopard was under vigilant medical watch and his wounds began healing rapidly. A final examination by our veterinary team confirmed that the leopard was ready to return to the wild and was released in a neighbouring forest range by the Forest Department. 

Big cats, especially the males often compete with each other for prey and territory base. Shrinking habitats and loss of natural food sources has led to more frequent struggles between animals over space and territory. We are grateful to the forest Department for making this rescue a success.

Watch the video about the entire incident here:

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