Leopard with head stuck in plastic container rescued after 2-day search

Mumbai: In a challenging search and rescue operation involving forest officials, volunteers and villagers, a leopard was relieved of the painful plight about 48 hours after its head got stuck in a plastic water container in Thane district of Maharashtra.

This ordeal left the big cat severely exhausted as it could neither breathe properly nor eat or drink for almost two days.

The leopard was spotted by a passerby near Badlapur village in the Thane district with the head stuck in the plastic water can on Sunday night, a forest department official said on Wednesday.

The man shot video clips of the leopard from his car, which showed the feline was desperately trying to free its head from the container.

However, before rescuers could reach the spot, the leopard had moved into a forest.

Soon after, officials of the Forest Department, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), members of the Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW) and some villagers, launched a search and rescue operation.

While a ground team patrolled the area, volunteers asked villagers to alert officials if the big cat is spotted, a RAWW member, who was involved in the rescue operation in which 30 people had taken part, recalled.

The official said the rescuers feared that the leopard might enter a human settlement as it was roaming in a very large area connecting urban and rural pockets and tracing the big cat was a big challenge.

The much-awaited call came on Tuesday night when the feline was once again spotted near Badlapur village.

RAWW founder Pawan Sharma said that a dart was fired at the leopard. After it became unconscious, rescuers removed the plastic can.

“The male leopard is sub-adult. He will be kept under observation for the next 24 to 48 hours before being released in the wild, he added.

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