A pet leopard captured from a residential area, now inside a cage in a former zoo in Islamabad on February 17, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD: A pet leopard escaped from a house in the Pakistan capital and roamed the streets for hours before being shot with a sedation dart, wildlife officials said on Friday.

In videos posted to social media of the six-hour jaunt on Thursday, the young male cat slips between cars before knocking down a man and leaping over a garden fence.

“According to our initial investigation, it is a pet animal and not wild at all, but he is scared and is constantly roaring,” Tariq Bangash, director of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), told AFP.

Videos of the panicked animal injuring two IWMB men and a local resident in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) went viral on social media prompting the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and IWMB guards rushing to the scene to capture the wild cat.

Image Credit: AFP

The IWMB used a tranquilliser at around 10pm to sedate the animal after it confined itself in a closed space.

Volunteers and the security guards present on the spot later moved the leopard to the IWMB rescue and rehabilitation centre.

According to Chairperson of the IWMB, Rina Saeed Khan the leopard would be kept on the premises that earlier used to be the Islamabad Zoo building.

Animal in good health

The IMWB on its Twitter handle announced: “The male Leopard is in good health at IWMB’s rescue and rehab centre. The IWMB scientific committee will decide next steps for leopard rehabilitation.”

The lone male common leopard captured from DHA was sedated and brought safely to IWMB’s rescue & rehab centre. The leopard is now awake & roaming inside its enclosure. There were NO fatalities. Everyone is safe and sound!

In the video footage that is making rounds on social media, the leopard could be seen attacking an IWMB volunteer, and another. A female officer of the IWMB also got hurt in the attack.

Case registered against unidentified captor

Pakistan last year banned the import of exotic mammals after large numbers were brought in or bred in recent years, causing problems for wildlife officials.

Big cats are seen as symbols of wealth and power in the country.

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The captured leopard was sedated and brought safely to IWMB’s rescue & rehab centre. Image Credit: Supplied

The creature, aged between two and three years old, is now in the company of a brown bear, a tiger and several monkeys rescued by wildlife authorities in recent months.

“We have information that several people in Islamabad and upscale areas of Rawalpindi are keeping wild animals including leopards as pets,” Bangash said.

Police are now trying to track down the owner of the leopard.

Islamabad is bordered by the Margalla Hills where a preservation zone has been set up to protect wild leopards in the area.