Mumbai: A leopard, which had sneaked into a private school two days ago was trapped and evicted early Sunday after a 20-hour operation by the forest department and police, an official said.
The full-grown cat, estimated to be five-years-old, had sneaked into the NES School in Mulund, north-east Mumbai, from the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) Friday morning apparently hunting for prey.
It was spotted in the basement by an alert security guard, who immediately bolted the doors and summoned the school authorities, police and forest officials.
The officials arrived soon afterwards but failed to track the cat which lay hiding in the basement, presumably since Friday night, said a forest official.
In an attempt to lure and trap it, the forest officials blocked the basement entrance with a cage and kept a chicken inside it.
However, the leopard stayed away from the cage and the bait.
Attempting to scare the cat out of hiding spot in the basement, the officials burst some fire-crackers late Friday night.
The leopard panicked by the sound of the fireworks and finally bolted into the cage early Sunday.
It was taken away by the forest officials to the SGNP, where it will be kept under medical observation for a few days before being fitted with a micro-chip and released in the forest.
"There have been more than two dozen such incidents of leopards entering thickly populated human areas in Mumbai. It is mainly due to lack of sufficient food inside the SGNP and human encroachment hitting the green cover," observed naturalist Himanshu Shah, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's Nature & Adventure Centre.
There were no injuries or damage reported from the leopard incident as the school was closed for summer vacations, police said.