Leopard that attacked six people near Avinashi in Tiruppur captured

The leopard that was darted and sedated by the Forest Department near Avinashi at Ammapalayam on Thursday.

The leopard that was darted and sedated by the Forest Department near Avinashi at Ammapalayam on Thursday.

The Forest Department on Thursday captured the leopard that attacked six people that was on prowl since Monday and had entered the city of Tiruppur after initially being found at a village near Avinashi.

Officials, who were part of the operation, said that the forest staff had camped at Pongupalayam in the city outskirts on Wednesday evening following reported sightings of the carnivore in the locality. Later, the personnel received information that the leopard was found at a godown on the premises of a private garment company at Ammapalayam within the limits of Tiruppur City Police.

The personnel rushed to Ammapalayam at around 9 a.m. to capture the leopard. In the meantime, it had attacked Rajendran (66), a security guard at the garment company, the officials said. While they succeeded in containing the carnivore initially, it managed to escape to an agriculture land in the vicinity within an hour.

After locating the leopard, the teams commenced efforts to administer the tranquiliser darts. The officials said they roped in E. Vijayaraghavan, veterinary assistant surgeon with the Department of Animal Husbandry, who had previously collaborated with the Forest Department in various operations, to fire the tranquilliser darts. He was accompanied by A. Sukumar, Forest Veterinary Officer of Coimbatore Forest Division for the darting operation.

During the confrontation with the leopard that lasted for nearly three hours, the leopard attacked two anti-poaching watchers, officials said. At around 1.30 p.m., Mr. Vijayaraghavan fired the first dart on the leopard at Ammapalayam. A second tranquilliser dart was also fired, following which the personnel physically restrained the big cat and placed it inside a cage.

On January 24, the leopard attacked two men at a maize farm at Pappankulam village in Avinashi taluk in the morning and an anti-poaching watcher in the evening. A total of six persons (three residents and three anti-poaching watchers) suffered injuries after being attacked by the leopard in four days. Having escaped from the village, it was believed to have been prowling around in the outskirts of Tiruppur on Tuesday and Wednesday and managed to enter the city on Thursday.

Conservator of Forests, Coimbatore Circle and Field Director of Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR) S. Ramasubramanian told The Hindu that the male leopard was around four years old and had no external injuries. It was found to be healthy and will be left in the forest area of the ATR at Kadamparai near Valparai in Coimbatore district as per the directions of the Chief Wildlife Warden, he said.

“Our main aim was to prevent the public from getting injured,” he said, noting the darting operation was a “risky” one as the Ammapalayam locality was densely populated.

While not ruling out the possibility that the leopard might have escaped from Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Erode district, Mr. Ramasubramanian said where the leopard came from is yet to be ascertained. “This could be a one-off incident,” he said on the leopard visiting Avinashi and Tiruppur, which are not located close to any forest area.

The Forest Department will bear the treatment expenses of the anti-poaching watchers who were injured in the operation and they will be felicitated soon, Mr. Ramasubramanian said.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 4:37:26 pm |