A massive search operation is being carried out after the leopard which was captured from a Bengaluru school on February 7 escaped Bannerghatta National Park.
According to some reports, the eight-year-old leopard which had glaucoma was last seen at 7 am on Monday while other accounts suggested that the leopard escaped late on Sunday night.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Karnataka Ravi Ralph told The News Minute, “We are investigating the matter. We want the media to corporate with the officials and make sure no panic message spreads until we confirm.”
He added, “Investigation is underway. We are trying to trace the leopard and following its pug marks. It will mostly go to the forest beacuse natural hiding place is the forest. But we are taking precautionary steps. We will identify the person responsible and take action."
He stated, "One of the night duty persons saw it escape. The duty person saw it outside at 6:45am. The leopard has crossed three barriers including a cage, a squeeze gate and a 35ft fence."
A source said, "First two days it didn't eat 4kg chicken. The cornea was whitish but vision was okay. Krishna who served food to the animal in the night did not notice anything amiss."
The source added, “In the night there are no workers. During the day from 8am onwards, there are 10 people. The vet says it could have played with the gates and it must have meddled with the pulley and it could have opened it."
Another sloth bear named "Begalamma" also reportedly escaped around 15 days ago but was retrieved immediately.
Ralph said that there has been dereliction of duty and action will be taken.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Mysuru, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said he would seek information from forest department officials about the leopard's escape.
"I will seek details of the animal's escape. I will talk to the forest department officials and find out the reason," he said
Park director Santosh Kumar said it was suspected the cage door was not properly shut. “There is no need to panic as the cat is still inside the park, its natural habitat. But we would have liked to have kept it for a few more days as the leopard was undergoing medical treatment,” he told Hindustan Times.
The leopard which was captured on February 7 after a long operation from Vibgyor School from Kundalahalli near Whitefield Bengaluru was kept in the Banerghatta Rescue Centre. Three people were injured in the operation.