ERODE: Panic spread among the tribals in Thimbam area after the body of a 42-year-old shepherd, suspected to have been killed by a leopard, was found inside a forest under Thalamalai range on Thursday night.
Forest officials said that the deceased was identified as Rasen (42), a resident of Kalithimbam tribal settlement. Rasen used to let free his cattle for grazing. However, on Thursday, a cow from the herd failed to turn up, prompting him to go inside the forest in search for it around 7 pm.
Meanwhile, the lone cow returned after sometime. As there was no sign of Rasen even after 10 in the night, his family started searching for him. They later found his body inside the range, bearing signs of animal attack.
On information, forest and STF officials reached the spot and conducted inquiries. Officials believe that Rasen might have accidentally come across a leopard in the jungle.
As the body was not found to be mutilated, Thalamalai ranger Ramaraj believed that the animal was not a man-eater. Claiming that the incident was a fallout of an accidental close encounter, the ranger said that the animal had neither dragged the body deep inside the forest nor eaten it.
Rasen’s body was sent to Sathy government hospital for post-mortem. The Hasanur police registered a case and were investigating. Rasen is survived by wife Saroja (35) and five children.
Meanwhile, in a bid to trace the movement of the leopard, officials were planning to install 20 CCTV cameras in Thalamalai forest area, said Sathy DFO N Rajkumar.
Allaying fears that the animal that killed the shepherd on Thursday was the same that had earlier taken two lives, Rajkumar told Express that the leopard in question was captured.
Stating that the death was a fallout of an encounter with the animal, he said that no major injury mark was found on Rasen’s body. “Rasen came under attack as he crossed the leopard’s path. After killing him, the animal left the spot without touching the body,” he said.
Spot of bother
The death of a shepherd in Thimbam took the toll of people killed in leopard attack to three in the span of two months. Here’s a look at what transpired
June 11: Md Iliyas, a lorry driver, attacked and killed by a leopard while he was taking a break between 26th and 27th hairpin curve on the Thimbam ghat section
July 18: Krishnan, a forest guard, killed by a leopard while he was attending to nature’s call in Thimbam ghat. The animal dragged his body into the forest
July 24: The leopard believed to have killed the two persons is caught. Later, the five-year-old carnivore was sent to the Vandalur Zoological Park in Chennai