Bangalore: It was like any other night in the busy city as I zipped through peak hour traffic in response to a rescue call from the satellite township of Kengeri. I arrived at the scene just in time to join other members of the BBMP Forest Cell as they sized up the situation. A two month old leopard cub looked back with naive confidence, totally unaware of his location – the loud and clanky machine room of a factory in a heavily industrialised part of town. What are the odds?!
It seemed as though the mother, on the heels of a street dog (easy prey for old or ailing leopards), had stumbled into the massive factory through a canal and the little one merely followed suit. Using her better judgement, the leopard escaped leaving behind the cub.
Nonetheless, this put the entirely factory in a state of panic, we went on to search the enormous industrial area until the cub was located, settled cozily under the kitchen sink in an abandoned portion of the factory. The young one had not yet developed the speed, presence of mind and knowledge that comes with experience (of many encounters in human dominated terrain) and was called in by factory workers at 8:30.pm. The Forest Department informed the BBMP Forest Cell team and we reached the spot within 20 minutes.
If not for our team’s immediate response, the young leopard would have had to remain in captivity for the rest of its life. We got into action by using the only available resource, a big blue milk crate, capturing the cub in approximately 45 minutes. A release towards the far edge of the factory ensued.
As is the case in all time sensitive situations, efficiency is the key and it happened so that the rescue was complete before the officials arrived on the scene. This infuriated them.
In response to their reaction and prompted by concern, we put ourselves on stand-by for the night to secure the future of the young leopard. Four hours into quiet observation from a nearby tree, there was a guttural call from the mother that was met with a shrill response from the cub. The team breathed relief, secure in the knowledge that the two were reunited.
Three days later, a telephone call came in from a surrounding village reporting another kill, a goat, in the same locality. We arrived to find the pugmarks of a large adult and its cub.