Skip to main content

Marking its territory? Leopard stalks Indian city, injuring 7

By Euan McKirdy, for CNN
updated 8:49 PM EST, Tue February 25, 2014
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
updated 9:54 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
updated 7:24 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
updated 1:44 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
updated 8:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
updated 12:06 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, gives a speech on April 18, 2012 in Lyon, central France, during the World Wide Web 2012 international conference on April 18, 2012 in Lyon.
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
updated 3:22 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
updated 4:00 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
updated 6:34 AM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
updated 12:46 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
updated 9:51 PM EST, Sun December 21, 2014
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
updated 11:21 AM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
updated 12:01 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT