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Leopard that strayed into Tamil Nadu school in Tirupathur caught in overnight operation

Three teams from the forest department comprising 50 personnel besides senior officials and police cordoned the car shed, located about 2 km from a private school campus where the big cat made its first appearance.
Last Updated : 15 June 2024, 04:03 IST

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Tirupathur, Tamil Nadu: A leopard that strayed into a school campus on June 14, triggering panic among locals, and later traumatised five occupants of two cars after it entered a car shed, was finally caught in an overnight operation, a senior forest official said on Saturday.

A team of forest department comprising veterinarians, who arrived from Hosur, tranquilised the big cat, which was found under a car, in the small hours today.

“We have successfully caught the straying leopard. And also rescued the five people stranded in their ca0r,” the official said.

“It was very terrifying spending 6-7 hours inside the car. We were apprehensive that the animal might attack us if we stepped out,” said Asgar Khan, among the five rescued by the forest and police officials.

Khan, along with his brother and a friend had parked his car when the watchman at the shed warned him that a leopard has entered the car shed.

“Immediately we locked the gate at the entrance of the shed so that the animal did not escape and locked ourselves in a car,” he told reporters.

The watchman who was attacked by the leopard was taken inside another car by a driver and the duo too remained fastened in the car, Khan said.

Throughout the tense moments inside the car, Tirupathur district collector K Tharpagaraj, accompanied by Superintendent of Police Albert John and forest department officials, assured the five persons that help was around and urged them to remain safe inside their vehicles.

“We were constantly in touch on Whatsapp video calls with the officials. They dropped a ladder from the roof and encouraged us to come out of the shed,” he said.

Initially, they were hesitant to step out as they were apprehensive that the big cat might attack them. But after the officials reassured, they came out of their vehicles, climbed the ladder and made good to safety.

“I saw the leopard’s eyes gleam, as I climbed the ladder and I thought that it might pounce on me. But I escaped to safety,” Khan, who appeared perturbed over the strange company of the leopard, said.

Three teams from the forest department comprising 50 personnel besides senior officials and police cordoned the car shed, located about 2 km from a private school campus where the big cat made its first appearance.

The team spread rope nets around the shed after confirming the presence of the animal, to prevent it from escaping.

A team of veterinarians who arrived from Hosur shot tranquiliser at the leopard early today and captured it.

According to the official, a parent who had come to the school to pick up his child noticed the leopard on the campus of the school located near the collectorate at about 4 pm and he immediately informed the authorities.

Police and forest department personnel rushed to the school and ensured the children returned home safely.

"Initially, it was planned to catch the animal with the help of nets but this was dropped after the leopard was noticed under a thicket on the campus. The forest department team is closely monitoring its movement and has decided to tranquilise it," he added.

Tirupathur district collector K Tharpagaraj, accompanied by Superintendent of Police Albert John and forest department staff rushed to the school and coordinated the operation and ensured the safety of the people.

A man who was injured in the attack by the leopard has been admitted to a hospital for treatment.

As frantic efforts were made to catch the animal, the leopard fled and took shelter in a car parking lot located close to the school. Noticing the leopard entering the shed, five persons, who had parked their cars just then, locked themselves in the vehicle fearing an attack by the animal.

The driver of a car was shell shocked when the animal walked over his vehicle and got down only to hide under another car further away, the official said.

There were eight cars parked in the shed. Three people were stranded in a car and two others in another car. They could not step out for nearly eight hours fearing that the animal would attack them.

“Foresters from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department successfully translocated a leopard in early hours of the morning today,” Additional Chief Secretary, Environment, Climate Change and Forests, Supriya Sahu informed.

“The leopard had entered Tirupathur town causing panic. Three teams from the Department with Vets and experts tranquilised the leopard and safely released him in a forest area. Kudos to the team #TNForest #wildliferescue #leopard,” she said in a post on the social media platform X.

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Published 15 June 2024, 04:03 IST

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