Confused, drugged or a pet; playful leopard’s viral video raises questions and concerns

Leopard spotted in Srinagar’s Bagh e Mehtab area, captured on CCTV

Wildlife conservatives have long fought to preserve the natural wildlife and prevent encroachment of wild animals’ habitat in the name of development but to no avail. As forests deplete, wild animal sightings have become a common affair. But the irresponsible behaviour of some people upon sighting of such wild animals out of their natural habitat is a cause for concern. In such incident, a leopard was spotted roaming on the highway of Nagladi-Sharchi road in Bandal of Sharchi Panchayat of Tirthan Valley at around 7 am on Thursday.

The actions of a few people who were trying to get photos and videos while getting awfully close to the wild cat and even harassing the animal is the kind of behaviour that should be condemned. Both for the safety of their lives as well as the leopard. Several videos and photos of the animal have gone viral on social media, leaving many suspicious by the behaviour of the leopard and outrage by how people treated the animal.

HP: playful leopard’s viral video raises questions and concerns

Irresponsible behaviour demonstrated by people

In the viral videos, the leopard can be seen roaming freely on the roadway as several vehicles have been parked to catch a glimpse of the rare sighting. As more and more people joined, the road was jammed for a good 5 hours. The leopard could be seen acting playful and interacting with people in a friendly way, something that is against its nature.

Not able to read behaviours of this leopard. Behaving strangely. People are not behaving better though. Videos circulating since evening. From HP. pic.twitter.com/5XNNkH4XLH

— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) January 14, 2021

Several people saw this and got really close to the wild cat. The leopard even latched on to the shoulder of at least three people. One person tried to rid himself of the leopard’s grip and almost threw it off the slope. In another scene, one man was letting the leopard stand on with the support of the arms. At any point, the leopard did not seem to cause any harm to humans.

This unusual gesture by the wild cat rose concerns and questions. While some speculated that the leopard could be ill, confused or even frightened, many assumed it could well be a pet seeing its friendly nature. See some reactions below:

Leopard released into the forest

After five hours on camping, the leopard was caught and released into the forest. DFO Praveen Thakur of Forest Department Banjar said not to panic as the big cat, aged about a year, has been safely cordoned off into its natural habitat.

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