Indian authorities hunt for leopard on the prowl in factory

AFP, NEW DELHI

Fri, Oct 06, 2017 - Page 6

Wildlife officials and police were yesterday on the hunt for a leopard on the loose inside a factory run by India’s largest car manufacturer, officials said.

Nearly 100 police and forest officials carrying tranquilizer guns were pursuing the big cat inside the factory in Manesar, which went into lockdown after it was spotted lurking around by security guards early yesterday.

“Many teams of police and forest guards are searching for the leopard. We have cordoned off the entire complex,” Manesar Police Deputy Commissioner Ashok Bakshi said.

Workers were evacuated from the Maruti Suzuki plant, the largest in India churning out nearly 1 million vehicles a year.

“They are in the process of collecting more details,” a Maruti Suzuki spokesman said, but did not elaborate.

Deadly conflict between humans and animals has increased in recent years in India largely due to shrinking forest habitats and urban expansion.

The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in August said that 1,144 people were killed between April 2014 and May by wild animals — an average of more than one a day.

There are an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 leopards in India, which are frequently killed when they stray into villages.

Officials say one is killed on average every day.

In January a leopard was beaten to death by a mob outside Gurgaon, a satellite city outside New Delhi, after it attacked and injured eight people.

Last year, a leopard injured three children after wandering into a school in Bengaluru in India’s south. Local schools went into lockdown for days until the leopard was located and tranquilized.