Residents of Warlipada in Thane were terrified after a leopard walked into one of their houses, on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), on Friday night.
According to information available, no sooner did the leopard stray into the house, the residents dashed out and quickly latched the door from outside, trapping the animal.
Forest officials were alerted and after they reached the area they led the animal into the forest. "As soon as we got a call about the incident, we went to the spot and planned to rescue the leopard," said a forest official, requesting anonymity.
Anxious residents waited and watched, as the officials unlatched the door of the house. "When we opened the door, he walked out quietly, back into the forest, without harming anybody," the official said.
Sushant Salgaonkar, range forest officer at Yeoor, said: "Some villagers apparently spotted the leopard at about 9.30pm and they alerted the villagers. It appears that the animal may have sought shelter in the quiet of the house away from the noise in the neighbourhood."
These animals are known to stray into human settlements in search of food.
The forest staff reached the spot at about 3am. Their priority was to protect the animal and so they set up a passage from the house leading into the wooded area. And when they opened the door, the leopard followed the path and went on its way.
Worried residents first called the Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW). Pawan Sharma, founder and president of the group, said they in turn alerted the forest officials.
The episode concluded early on Saturday and tired residents tried to make up some lost sleep.