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Lost leopard caught in a spot

Lost in fog at dawn, locked up in school by dusk.

An adult leopard, which on a foggy Friday morning strayed from nearby forests to Kargai village, Mandar, 40km from Ranchi, first clambered up a tree where it stayed for hours and then jumped inside a school, where foresters locked it up.

This morning, when farmer Mahavir Pahan of Ripin Toli in Kargai was working on his farm, he heard a grunt and mistaking the sound for a dogís bark, pelted stones at it.

The leopard pounced on the farmer. As Pahan screamed, he and two other villagers suffered the ire of the leopard.

Then, hounded by villagers armed with sticks, the animal raced up to the top of a peepal tree in sheer panic.

A 10-member forest department rescue team went to the spot around 10am. But they found two tasks at hand, both equally difficult.

They had to calm the mob to cage the leopard.

Range officer Bishwanath Prasad said that from morning to evening, their energies went into controlling the crowd and convincing them to leave the spot, but no avail.

ďThe nature of wild animals is such that they donít harm anyone till they donít feel threatened. But no one was willing to listen,Ē he said, adding they cordoned off the area.

Finally, around 5.30pm, the leopard, who did not find its perch on the thin branches on the top very cushy, jumped in a flash and ran to a nearby middle school.

Relieved officials locked the door of the classroom.

Till reports last came in, Birsa zoo officials were on their way with a cage to take the leopard with them.