Jaulake Khurd village in Khed, Pune district, experienced a spike in human-leopard conflict after an adult leopard was found wandering in the area. On Friday night, the leopard was successfully rescued after a 10-hour long operation by Maharashtra forest department and Wildlife SOS.
The Maharashtra forest department was first alerted of the leopard sighting as it repeatedly came into conflict with residents of Jaulake Khurd village. On Friday, the Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar assisted the Forest Department in conducting a 10-hour long rescue operation to safely extract the leopard from the conflict zone.
The first step was tracking the leopard. Utilising evidence from camera traps and pugmarks, the forest department and Wildlife SOS were able to confirm the location of the leopard swiftly. Yet, the initial attempt to rescue the leopard was disrupted as the frightened feline fled the location, forcing the authorities to take on a different approach.
Eventually, the leopard was spotted sitting in tall grasslands and the forest department acted promptly and secured the area around the leopard using safety nets. Numerous precautionary measures were utilised such as wearing protective gear and blocking every exit point. A trap cage with food bait was then placed nearby to lure the leopard in.
After several hours of waiting, the leopard successfully entered the trap cage and was transferred to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre for medical observation.
Pradip Raundal, range forest officer, Khed Range said, “The Jaulake Khurd village has previously not experienced as much human-leopard conflict. However, leopards are slowly shifting into this area. The biggest challenge we faced in rescuing this leopard, was that it was camouflaged during the day and extremely active at night. ”
Dr Nikhil Bangar, wildlife veterinary officer, Wildlife SOS, said, “Tracking wide-ranging leopards is an extremely formidable task and can even take months! The forest department and Wildlife SOS team were able to track the leopard in a record-breaking time of about a day.”