Indian leopard that mauled six at Bangalore school escapes

media captionThe leopard had been taken for medical treatment before it escaped

A male leopard that mauled six people at a school in India before it was captured has escaped its enclosure, officials said.

The eight-year-old leopard strayed into a closed school in Bangalore on 7 February, injuring several people before being tranquilised.

It was taken to Bannerghatta National Park for medical treatment but on Sunday broke out of its cage.

But officials said there was no cause for public alarm.

image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionImages from inside the leopard's enclosure show a gap underneath the door

"It is a myth that a leopard can turn into a man-eater. It's a very remote exception to the rule. On this count, there is no need for worry," Ravi Ralph, chief wildlife warden in the south Indian state of Karnataka, told BBC Hindi's Imran Qureshi.

However, as a precautionary measure, forest officials have started visiting villages located along the periphery of the park to advise people not to panic.

Officials said the leopard escaped when attendants opened the cage to feed it, possibly when the cage door was not properly shut.

"They say that it could have got out through a gap in the railing. There is a lot of incongruity in the statements made by the staff there. So, we have ordered an inquiry. We should know the details in the next two or three days," Mr Ralph said.

image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionThe wild animal was being treated at the Bannerghatta National Park
image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionPark officials have been investigating tracks to see where the leopard might have got to
image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionOfficials have also been checking boundary fences - on the other side is a large forested area

The escape came one week after the leopard broke into the school in the Kundalahalli area.

A scientist and a forestry employee were among those mauled as it was cornered close to a swimming pool.

It took forest and police officials 12 hours to capture the animal.

image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionThe leopard was spotted strolling inside the school premises on Sunday last week
image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionA scientist and a forest employee were among those who were mauled by the animal
image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionForest officials and local police launched an operation to capture the animal
image copyrightKashif Masood
image captionThe leopard was eventually tranquillised and moved to the park

A recent wildlife census estimates that India has a leopard population of between 12,000 and 14,000.

Leopards and other big cats have been known to stray into populated areas, and conservationists have warned that such confrontations may increase as humans encroach on animal habitats.

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