Leopard captured after six wild hours in Islamabad residential area

Published February 17, 2023
A video grab shows leopard jumps on a wall of a house in DHA in Islamabad.
A video grab shows leopard jumps on a wall of a house in DHA in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD: It took the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and Capital Development Authority more than five hours to capture a leopard which possibly escaped from a safari park and found itself “trapped” in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) amid panicked residents.

The IWMB after failing to lure the animal into a cage had to use a tranquiliser around 10pm to sedate the animal after it was confined in a closed space by the volunteers and staffers present on the spot. According to Rina Saeed Khan, who heads the wildlife board, the leopard would be kept at a rescue centre in the Rescue Centre, which used to be the Islamabad zoo. IWMB chief was coordinating with the commissioner by the time this report went to press.

Around 4pm, videos started making rounds on social media showing the feline running around in the housing society. These clips showed the leopard – also panicked – trying to flee the scene, but it ended up running into houses and scaling walls.

The leopard could also be seen attacking an IWMB volunteer twice. Three people got hurt, including two staff members of IWMB, during the entire episode which resulted in the capture of the wild cat. In another video, a man, who came across as a private security member, shot at the leopard without any regard for the safety of people gathered on the site. However, this was denied by the authorities concerned.

Feline likely to be moved to ‘rescue centre’; three people injured

‘Call for Rescue’

At 4:20 pm, the DHA security called the Islamabad Wildlife Management Department to report that a leopard had bit a security guard on the back. By the time the IWMB team reached the housing scheme, Rescue 1122 was already on the ground but it had failed to cordon off the area, said IWMB Rina Saeed Khan. She claimed a lot of TikTokers had gathered around the leopard, dangerously close to the feline despite warnings from the staff of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to stay indoors. “The leopard attacked because it felt cornered,” Ms Khan said.

Rina Saeed Khan said it was illegal to keep common leopards as pets and action would be taken if it was established that it had an owner.

Initially, IWMB staffer Rizwan Mehboob, who was slightly injured by the feline, suspected that the leopard seemed to have escaped from a nearby farmhouse. The leopard did not attack as a wild cat would; they usually target the neck of their prey.

This is not the first time common leopards have disrupted life by entering settlements – a result of encroachment into their habitat.

Last year in November, leopards entered several houses in the Saidpur model village in Margalla Hills, spreading panic.

While the villagers said they saw four leopards, IWMB said that leopards were highly territorial, and did not roam in groups like a pride of lions.

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2023

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