Surprising footage that surfaced online yesterday shows a leopard approaching a group of people and playing with them. This unusual behaviour from a wild animal has raised concerns among wildlife experts and forest officials, with some speculating that the leopard may have been hand-reared and therefore used to the presence of humans.
In India, the private possession of endangered cats, including leopards, is prohibited.
In the video, which was reportedly filmed at the Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh, the big cat was seen walking up to a group of people standing on a roadside. While some people scrambled to get away, one stood still as the leopard approached and tried to climb him playfully. Another man was then filmed playing with the big cat in a scene that has raised eyebrows on social media.
Footage of the leopard's strange behaviour began to go viral yesterday and gained further attention after it was posted on Twitter by Indian Forest Service officer Parveen Kaswan.
"Not able to read behaviours of this leopard. Behaving strangely," he wrote, also criticising the behaviour of people standing around the leopard. "People are not behaving better though. Videos circulating since evening. From HP."
Not able to read behaviours of this leopard. Behaving strangely. People are not behaving better though. Videos circulating since evening. From HP. pic.twitter.com/5XNNkH4XLH— Parveen Kaswan, IFS (@ParveenKaswan) January 14, 2021
In the comments section, Mr Kaswan added that the leopard looked like a domesticated one and may have escaped from some estate.
This theory was seconded by senior IFS officer Ramesh Pandey. "This is possible in case of hand reared animals. Needs further investigation. The trend of keeping wild animals as pet can result in such unusual recoveries or surprising sightings," Mr Pandey wrote, calling the trend "worrisome".
This is possible in case of hand reared animals. Needs further investigation. The trend of keeping wild animals as pet can result in such unusual recoveries or surprising sightings. Unfortunate and worrisome.— Ramesh Pandey (@rameshpandeyifs) January 14, 2021
He further clarified that keeping leopards as pets is a crime in India.
Footage of the playful leopard has been viewed thousands of times over on social media, where it has left many stunned. A number of people also criticised the group filmed playing with the animal as "foolish" and "dumb".Click for more trending news