• The leopard entered the hostel in the wee hours of Monday and hid under a couch
  • The hostel owner almost grabbed it, thinking it was just a piece of printed clothing
  • When the owner realized what it was, she hid in a room with the 15 residents of the hostel
  • The leopard was eventually tranquilized, caged and transported to the Assam State zoo

A leopard entered a girls' hostel in India Monday, creating panic among its occupants. The animal was later found trapped under a couch in the hostel.

Mousumi Bora, the owner of the hostel located in Guwahati, a city in the northeastern state of Assam, mistook the leopard for a piece of cloth stuck under the couch and tried to pick it up, almost touching the animal. However, she realized that it was actually a leopard just before grabbing it.

Bora, along with the 15 residents of the hostel, locked themselves in a room and informed the forest officials about the animal. The officials from Assam State Zoo and Wildlife Division and Territorial Division, along with the police, soon arrived at the scene with a tranquilizer gun.

It took the officials more than four hours to tranquilize the leopard. After being shot with the tranquilizer, the leopard still managed to wander into a nearby house, scaring its residents.

Tejas Mariswamy, the divisional forest officer, said that the officials finally managed to cage the tranquilized animal and transport it to the Assam State Zoo at around 11 a.m. IST. He also said that the veterinarians at the zoo will examine the leopard to determine if it was injured.

"The animal must have entered the premises in the wee hours as seen in CCTV camera footage. It entered the grilled verandah [porch] and got trapped under a sofa," Hindustan Times quotes Bora as saying.

According to the authorities, the leopard will be microchipped before being released to the wild.

"Another successful operation today as we safely rescued an Indian leopard which took shelter in a hostel in Hengrabari, Guwahati. The success can be attributed to the timely intervention of our Assam State Zoo, Wildlife Division and Territorial Division staff and a police team," Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said in a tweet.

Similar incidents are often reported from Guwahati, which is surrounded by hills and forests. There were reports of leopard lynching in Assam in June, where a group of people killed the animal and paraded with its carcass.

Leopards are categorized as "vulnerable" species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. In India, leopards fall under the category of Scheduled I species under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, so they receive maximum protection. Because of this, crimes against leopards draw heavy punishment.

Leopard | Representational Image pixabay