On February 7, a leopard wandered into a school in east Bengaluru and injured five people before being subdued. It was taken to Bannerghatta Biological Park before escaping its enclosure earlier this week. Below is an account of the feline’s whereabouts since then.
All I was doing was taking a midnight stroll through that school. The next thing I knew they had guns after me. One gentleman (I think I may have seen him in the forest in Nagarhole sometime) tried to hit me on the head with his camera. I felt a sharp pain before passing out.
On waking up, I found myself in a cage. Some men in khaki were standing before me. They felt I was intolerant and had decided to put me away. First, they took away my home and forest, and then they labelled me intolerant. I would have none of it, so I slunk away in the dead of night (silly humans forgot to lock the cage!).
I walked through the night. My plan was to reach Bombay (okay it’s Mumbai, before you call me anti-national). My thinking was that there is a news anchor there who may put me on air. After all, the nation must know what we leopards have to endure.
Big city adventures
Anticipating my appearance on national television, I licked my wounds and polished my spots after reaching the city. Suddenly, I heard loud noises from inside the studios. A man was screaming, he kept jumping on his chair, like that time I sat on an anthill in the forest. He seemed to be in pain.
I later met my cousin in Aarey (that milk colony in the heart of Mumbai where us leopards still roam). “Don’t bother, this TV guy is too busy saving the nation,” he said. “In any case, I have never seen him show any footage of us animals; he only cares for the humans – the humans who love India – and no one else.”
So I took the expressway and ended up in Pune. But oh no! I’ve entered a campus again. First it was that school in Bengaluru, and now it’s Film and Television Institute of India in Pune. How did I know? Well, I once saw the head of that institute in a film. I remember it because the movie had lots of objectionable images and so I couldn’t let my cubs watch it.
I decided that this place wasn’t for me. After all, us leopards have strong family values, so I decided to head north to meet some of my cousins in Corbett. But then I remembered that it’s safari season at the national park, which meant it would be extremely crowded. Also, with all those human weddings happening there, my cousin the tiger has gone deaf.
I then decided that Delhi would be perfect as the Aravali forest would be an ideal retreat for this tired soul. Aaah, the shade of the trees feels so good. There are even some big glitzy malls nearby in case I need a manicure. Wow, Delhi is rocking so far.
But wait, what’s this? Water cannons and oh no, it’s those men in khaki again? And they are arresting those students, those poor students. I said to a roaming nilgai: “What’s up dude? What’s with students protesting everywhere? Have I crossed the border and ended up in China? I mean is this Tiananmen Square?”
I planned to have this lovely animal for dinner tomorrow, but the nilgai wanted to have a say in the matter. “Don’t even think of hunting me down. If you are caught on camera eating me, they may take you away. After all, you are being anti-national,” it said.
I took the nilgai’s advice. I decided that Delhi was too dangerous, but let me at least stop by and meet my friends at the Ministry of Tigers & All Other Animals, which is right next to that Department of How Polluted is the Air Today.
But the guard informed me that the good Minister of Tiger & All Other Animals was dining with the Minister of Let’s Build Roads Through Forests. On the agenda was how to clean our Saraswati river by building a huge port on it.
I thought of having tea with my friend Tweetee the bird, but she said she was moving out as trolls had attacked her home the previous night.
Eventually, I decided that maybe it’s time to head back to that school where they trapped me. So I ran through the forest… but where did it go? There are just coal blocks everywhere. Aah!
Luckily, I found the highway. But a truck came at full speed and hit me. Then the men in khaki arrived to put me in an ambulance. “Will you send me across the border now?” I asked with a groan.
The next day, in jail, I read the headline: “Leopard slapped with sedition charge for blocking country’s economic interests by crossing national highway”.
Bahar Dutt is a conservation biologist and author of the book Green Wars.