A common leopard attacked three vehicles near the Bhutan Oil Distributor (BOD) station in Trashigang around 8am yesterday.

A businessman, Galay Wangchuk, was returning home after dropping his children to school in Pam when the animal, which was half covered in dirt, was walking along the roadside a few hundred metres away from the fuel station.

“As I reached closer, it suddenly jumped on the road and hit my vehicle. I immediately stopped the vehicle. If I didn’t, I could have run over the animal,” he said.

The 27-year-old businessman was driving a van.

He said that the animal got aggressive immediately after hitting the vehicle and started attacking the vehicle. “For some reason, the animal was unusually aggressive,” he said. “It started to attack my vehicle from all the directions but luckily all the windows were closed.”

The vehicle suffered a dent in the front along with multiple scratches in the front and on the left door. The rain guard at the front was also damaged.

The leopard chased Galay Wangchuk’s van for about 300 metres until he reached the station. The animal then shifted its attention to another approaching car, a Santro. “The leopard climbed atop the car and began hitting it until it jumped off into the forest just below the station,” he said.

The leopard also attacked a bolero pickup around the same time.

Another witness was the BOD manager, Khrishna Bdr Bhujel, who managed to take a long distance picture of the animal.

“It appeared as if the animal was drunk. But it was aggressive to objects near it,” said the manager. “It was attacking the red and yellow signboard near the fuel tankers.”

However, Khrishna Bdr Bhujel said that the leopard didn’t attack him even when he approached the animal to take the picture. “There was only about 80ms distance between us.”

Meanwhile, forest officials said that they are monitoring the area and looking for the presence of the animal. “The animal might have strayed as it moved through the forests near the highway,” an official said.

Khrishna Bdr Bhujel said that the leopard must have been straying in the area for a few days. “There were words going around that a tiger is on the loose a few days ago,” he said. “However, there has been no incidents reported caused by the animal until today.”

Forest officials said they did not receive any information on the presence of leopards until yesterday morning.

Travellers are advised to be cautious and roll up their windows while driving along the highway.

Residents in Pam and Kheri areas said that this is the first time that a leopard has attacked objects. “Maybe the animal was sick but we have not heard of such animals attacking in the open place before,” said a farmer. “It is a big concern especially for parents who have school going children.”

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang