Mumbai: A leopard which had strayed into the forest-like campus of IIT Bombay finally left after an almost four-day long sojourn early Saturday, with the institute students, management and forest officials heaving a sigh of relief, an official said.
“After searching the entire premises, the forest department has concluded that it has moved out of the campus which it had entered Wednesday,” IIT PRO Rashmi Uday Kumar said.
The leopard had strayed into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay Wednesday morning after chasing a dog for food.
It was sighted twice by the campus residents even as forest officials were called from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) nearby and the Thane forest deparment, besides NGOs.
The following morning, its roars, pugmarks and other indications of its presence were found in the Metallurgy Department Workshop, around a kilometer from the main entrance of IIT B.
The IIT helped the forest department with a high-tech small remote controlled robot fitted with a camera that went inside the sprawling workshop, but failed to catch any movement.
Fortunately, Rashmi said that the workshop is rarely used and there’s not much movement of the 9,000-plus students or faculty in that area of the 550-acres lush green IIT B campus.
As the leopard remained quiet, the forest officials tried to lure it with a live chicken and water into a trap cage kept near the workshop. The police and IIT B security intensified patrolling to ward off any attack by the large cat.
A couple of forest officials also moved around the area in a caged vehicle but only spotted its stool as it continued to play hide-and-seek with them.
Finally, after nearly four days, the forest department called off the search, ruling that leopard may have quietly slunk away into the Aarey Milk Colony forests.
The leopard presence became a matter of jokes and puns on the IIT B campus in the past four days.
“No exams, no studies, no quotas — Leopard directly admits himself to IIT B”, “We hope it acquires a degree before leaving IIT B”, “If it continues anymore, it may join the IITB faculty team”, and the likes did the rounds among the IIT B students, and more on social media.
Incidentally, there are around three dozen leopards in and around the SGNP – among two such national parks in the world falling within city limits.
“Owing to encroachments and disturbances inside the approximate 130 sq km SGNP, they face space constraints keep coming out of their forest into the concrete junge outside,” said Vanashakti NGO Project Officer A. Ashwin.
Leopards have been seen in BEST buses, in residential buildings, on highways, in slums, and a few years ago, a full-grown Sambhar, with massive antlers had strayed into a housing complex, more than two km from the forest boundary.