The District Forest Officer (DFO), Vellore, S. Kalanidhi, on Wednesday said it was a stray dog on a street in Onnai Mottur village near Anaicut region in Vellore that killed a cat in the area and not a leopard as was widely believed after the CCTV footage went viral on social media the previous day.
The footage of the CCTV cameras at the entrance of a house in the village showed an animal chasing a cat on Tuesday night. The video of the incident went viral on social media platforms. Subsequently, Collector P. Kumaravel Pandian issued a general advisory to residents in the village and tourists in Anaicut region, which is located along Jawadhu Hills, not to venture out during night due to suspected leopard movement. The advisory was based on the initial reports by the DFO.
“We have analysed at least seven CCTV footages of the incident and have concluded that it was a stray dog which killed the cat and not a leopard,” Mr. Kalanidhi told The Hindu.
Forest officials said a 12-member special team, led by Odugathur forest range officer, S. Indu, has been formed to monitor any suspicious movement of leopards that would have strayed from its habitat — Kaundinya sanctuary in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh.
As per records, forest officials said at least 8-10 leopards have been spotted in the reserve forests (RFs), covering key towns like Gudiyatham and Pernambut along the sanctuary on the Tamil Nadu border earlier. The Onnai Mottur village is located near Pallikonda RF, which is close to Gudiyatham and Pernambut towns. In April 2021, a five-year-old male leopard was tranquillized by forest officials after he attacked a family in Gudiyatham. Since then, leopards straying into human habitations have not been reported in the region.
Forest officials said lack of pug marks, lengthy tail and playful nature of the animal in the footage were some of the indications that led them to confirm the animal was not a leopard. They said the injury marks in the cat were also not on the neck and there were no traces of blood in the cat. Further, they said that no leopard will leave its prey in the spot at any cost. However, residents found the dead cat later.
As part of surveillance and to instil confidence among residents, the special forest team has been patrolling RFs like Nellimalai, Pallikonda, Arasanpattu and Sarakuppam in Odugathur forest range. CCTV cameras in villages along these RFs are also being monitored by the team.