| The hyena that was spotted at Harihar Nagar in Puri. Picture by Sarat Patra |
Bhubaneswar, July 17: Panic gripped Harihar Nagar slum on the outskirts of Puri, 65km from here, when a hyena was seen prowling in the area early this morning. The animal even chased two women and a boy, all of whom, however, managed to escape.
This is the second incident of a wild animal straying into a human habitation this month. On July 4, a leopard’s entry into a busy market of Sonepur town in western Odisha had triggered chaos. The leopard, which was trapped in one of the shops in the market, was captured two days later.
Eyewitnesses in Harihar Nagar said the hyena, which is believed to have strayed from the nearby Balukhand sanctuary, was seen moving in a playground near the slum around 6am. It chased two women and a boy who happened to be passing by.
As the news spread, a large number of people gathered on the playground forcing the hyena to retreat into the bushes nearby that form the outer boundary of the 70sqkm Balukhand sanctuary. The sanctuary extends from the outskirts of Puri town to Konark.
Local residents said forest officials were late in arriving at the spot even though they were informed about the hyena immediately after it was spotted.
“As soon as we spotted the animal, we informed the forest officials. But they came after two hours and did not even have required equipment such as tranquillisers to capture the animal,” said Dukhi Shyam Patnaik, an eyewitness.
Since the forest officials appeared to be woefully under-equipped to deal with the crisis, local residents decided to take matters into their own hands. They let off firecrackers, scaring away the beast which ran back into the Balukhand sanctuary forests from where it had emerged.
Sources said that had the hyena not been chased away by the local people, it might have entered the nearby Siddha Mahavir, which is a thickly populated area.
Forest officials said the area where the hyena was spotted was being used for plantation, which is why there were a lot of bushes around where it could hide. “We suspect that it came from the nearby Balukhand sanctuary. It might have come looking for food,” said divisional forest officer, Puri, P.K. Behera. He denied that forest officials had been late in arriving on spot.
Behera said that though deer were frequently spotted in localities such as Harihar Nagar close to the Balukhand sanctuary, this is the first instance of a hyena straying into the area.