A panicked leopard ran through the streets of Jalandhar in northern India on Thursday as residents thronged and scattered, if not to help catch the big cat then to capture a cellphone image of the jarring scene.
Video shared on social media shows residents swarming as the leopard darts down alleyways and up over walls. At one point, a man perched atop a barrier attempts to catch the leopard in a net; instead, the animal charges at the man, knocking him off the wall before continuing on its way.
The chase reportedly ended hours later when wildlife veterinary experts with a tranquilizer gun managed to sedate the animal and take it to an area zoo.
Several people were injured in the chaos, some of them bitten, though none seriously, according to The Tribune.
The Tribune reports the leopard had most likely strayed into town from a nearby rural area.
The World Wide Fund for Nature-India says there is no official countrywide estimate of the leopard population, but the federally protected animal occupies a wide habitat. And as human populations grow and cities expand, leopards and people are increasingly crossing paths in sometimes fatal interactions.
In 2011, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests issued a report titled Guidelines for Human-Leopard Conflict Management, saying that while leopards are inclined to avoid people, “incidences of leopards ‘straying’ into settlements causing human casualties, and the retaliatory killing of leopards by the public have been on the rise.”
The report notes that leopards generally will not attack unprovoked, but are likelier to do so in self-defense. And “attacks by man-eating leopards are deliberate with an intention to kill, and usually result in death.”
The government advises that residents rely on trained professionals to track and capture the animals.
Properly disposing of garbage so as not to attract the feral pigs and dogs favored as food by leopards and locking up livestock in leopardproof sheds might reduce the risk of future attacks, the report says.
As for the Jalandhar leopard, The Hindustan Times reports that officials at the Chhatbir Zoo planned to observe it for several days before making a decision about its future.