130 schools shut in India's Bangalore after 'leopard sighting'

A leopard attacking a forest official at a school in Bangalore, India, on Feb 7, 2016.
A leopard attacking a forest official at a school in Bangalore, India, on Feb 7, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

BANGALORE (AFP) - A reported leopard sighting close to where a big cat injured five people at the weekend forced the closure of 130 schools in the southern Indian city of Bangalore on Thursday (Feb 11), the education authority said.

Panic gripped an eastern suburb of the city after a woman claimed to have spotted a leopard 6km away from Vibgyor school, where one tried to maul several wildlife workers Sunday, before being caged.

Residents were advised not to venture into open spaces in the area, which is dotted with boulders and eucalyptus plantations, as a precaution.

"We have advised about 80 private and 50 government schools in the city's eastern areas to remain closed today for the safety of their wards, as one or two more leopards were seen moving around in the vicinity," Mr S.M. Ramesh, block education officer, told AFP.

Forestry officials said they had searched the area for two days without success, after a woman reported seeing a leopard behind a technology park on her way home from work on Wednesday evening.

"We have placed one cage with a bait in the area and another near the private school where one leopard was trapped on Feb 7," deputy range forest officer Jagannath Reddy told reporters.

About 60 schools in the eastern areas had already declared a holiday on Wednesday, after rumours spread about a leopard being sighted in the area.

Leopards number between 12,000 to 14,000 in India, according to a national survey released last year. They are increasingly venturing into populated areas as their habitats become depleted.

A leopard killed a five-year-old boy in the courtyard of his home in central India in 2014.

Video footage from Mumbai in 2013 showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block foyer and snatching a small dog.