A leopard that had strayed into human habitation in the Angamoozhy village lying on the forest fringes of Goodrickal range in the Ranni Forest was suffocated to death when the local people tried to humble the animal on Tuesday.
It was a milkmaid who had spotted the leopard walking along the local Gurukulam in the morning and she had alerted the villagers. Rushing to the spot, the villagers found the giant cat lying on the ground in a rubber estate. The animal slowly walked into the nearby bushes at the sight of the people.
Local people informed the Forest officials and the Forest party led by Divisional Forest Officer, R. Kamalahar, rushed to the spot by 9 am.
Meanwhile, the villagers found that two dogs were killed by the leopard. The crowd assembled protested when the Forest personnel tried to drive the animal into the adjoining forests, saying that it should be either killed or caught so as to prevent its re-entry into the human habitation, posing threat to the school children and other local population.
The police party from Chittar and Angamoozhy too have reached the spot. The animal came out while the people assembled there were trying to trap it using a rope and net. In a sudden move, the leopard pounded on a man who in turn had pushed it down against a rock. Nearly 40 people watching the scene too swung into action throwing their weight on the animal lying on the ground.
They plugged its mouth and tied the legs and the animal fell unconscious by the time the veterinary surgeon, Gopakumar and party reach the spot to dart it safely.
The Forest department personnel took the animal to the Forest Range Office at Angamoozhy where it was declared dead, later.
Dr Gopakumar and the Forest Veterinary officer, Sunil, have jointly conducted an autopsy on the dead animal, later.
Dr Gopakumar told The Hindu that the female leopard was four years old. According to Forest department sources, the scared animal might have been isolated and strayed into the forest fringes owing to the recent wild fire in the locality.