A two-and-a-half-year-old leopard proved too tough for the cage it was trapped in at a tea estate here. The animal bit through a mesh and squeezed through the bars of the cage set by the Forests Department and escaped into forests on Saturday before a team of officials arrived from Coimbatore to tranquillise it. Following incidents of the leopard attacking a boy and a girl at the Gaja Mudi tea estate, the department placed three cages at different points to trap the intruder. It got trapped in one of them late on Friday night at the estate located in the Manombly range of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.

On being informed of the animal landing in the cage, Field Director of the tiger reserve H. Basavaraju deputed a team of officials, led by Forest Veterinarian and tranquilliser expert N. Manoharan and Monamboly Range Officer Arokiyaraj Xavier. The aim was to tranquillise the leopard and release it into the forests.Dr. Manoharan explained later that the leopard was strong and it was natural for a caged one to desperately seek an escape route.

Panic returned to the tea estate after the big cat's escape. Forest officials said a tight vigil was being maintained and efforts to trap the leopard would continue.

Forest Minister N. Selvaraj along with Kovai Thangam MLA and Forest Department officials gave away a compensation of Rs. 5,000 each to the parents of Saranya and Munis who were attacked by the leopard in the last 10 days. The children are undergoing treatment.

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