A leopard that strayed inside the sprawling Mercedes Benz factory was rescued after the plant had to be partially evacuated and operations halted for nearly 6 hours, here on Monday. In an unusual incident, workers at the Chakan plant were rattled to notice an adult leopard prowling on the luxury car manufacturing factory premises around dawn and sounded an alarm. After the initial panic subsided, a team of Maharashtra Forest Department arrived and took charge of the situation on the 100-acre production facility.
A Wildlife SOS Team from the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre was also called in with reinforcements and veterinarians to help trap and rescue the big cat.
Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the workers in the immediate vicinity were evacuated to a safe spot on the advice of the local police.
In the operation lasting around 6 hours, the teams comprising Dr Shubham Patil and Dr Nikhil Bangar located the leopard hidden on the shop floor of one of the factory sheds and then secured the area.
The two teams successfully managed to lure and trap the distressed feline, shot a tranquiliser dart from a safe distance and numbed it before it was captured around 11.30 a.m, nearly 6 hours after it was sighted.
MFD Range Forest Officer Yogesh Mahajan said that the leopard was shifted to a special transportation cage and taken to a facility in Junnar where it continues to remain under medical observation before release into the wild.
Dr Bangar, the Wildlife Veterinary Officer with the Wildlife SOS, said that the leopard is a male, aged around 2-3 years.
After the successful rescue, the Wildlife SOS CEO K. Satyanarayan said that due to rapid habitat loss, leopards of Maharashtra are being compelled to venture into human-dominated areas.
“Our team is trained to ensure that such situations are handled with the utmost caution, keeping in mind the safety of the leopard as well as humans,” said Satyanarayan.
Following the successful operation, the relieved workers returned to their workplaces and normalcy resumed by noon, said the police.
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