Finding itself trapped among an anxious crowd of villagers, a stray leopard attacked and seriously injured five persons at Khetipulbadi in West Bengal on Monday.

Two teams were brought from Benagudi and Madarihat to tranquillise the animal. It will be released deep into a forest, Sheelwant Patel, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) of north Bengal, told The Hindu over telephone

Long wander

The leopard had wandered into the village in Cooch Behar district late Sunday night and was unable to return to its forest before daybreak. As soon as the animal was sighted, large crowds began to assemble in the area, Dr. Patel said.

Among the injured, some were taken to the Dhoopguri hospital and the others whose condition was more serious, to the Jalpaiguri hospital.

It was likely that the leopard had crossed a vast distance as there isn't any dense forest area nearby, Dr. Patel said.

Challenge to foresters

The presence of curious onlookers was a serious challenge to foresters in trying to bring such situations under control. Often the wild animal felt trapped and threatened, and hence attacked them, he said.

Dr. Patel pointed out that incidents of leopards straying into villages and tea gardens were fairly common in February and March during the breeding season.

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