VELLORE: Panic struck villagers of Kalarpalayam near Erthangal in Vellore's Gudiyatham on Wednesday night after a straying leopard sneaked into a house through an open door and attacked three people.
The residents - Velayutham (42), his wife Prema (32), daughter Mahalakshmi (15) and son Manoharan (20) - were sleeping inside the house.
The leopard strayed into the village adjoining two Reserve Forests (RFs) - Pallalakuppam and Gundalapalli - at around 3 am.
"We were sleeping in the hall keeping the door open to get some air because it was hot inside. My wife woke up to the barking of dogs and just stepped out of the house to check, when the leopard charged towards her and attacked her," Velayutham told The New Indian Express.
"We woke up only to see the wild animal coming into the house. We tried to run out of the house but the leopard attacked my son and daughter," Velayutham said.
"We managed to get ourselves out and locked the front door trapping the leopard inside the house," Velayutham added.
Initially, the Pernambut RF team led by L Sankaraiyya rushed to the spot.
"Prema sustained injuries on the forehead, while Mahalakshmi was attacked on the hand and Manoharan was attacked on the back and they were shifted to Government Hospital in Gudiyattam," Sankaraiyya, the Pernambut Forest Range Officer, told The New Indian Express.
District Forest Officer K Bhargav Teja, Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) R Muralidharan, Animal Rescue Team from Hosur, Vellore circle Forest Protection Squad, and forest department officers and personnel from Gudiyatham, Pernambut and Odukkathur subsequently launched an operation to tranquilize the leopard that had been trapped inside the house for over nine hours. As many as 50 personnel were involved in the operation.
A large number of villagers gathered near the house as soon as word spread on the leopard attack. They jostled to have a glimpse of the animal that had given them a sleepless night.
Almost nine hours into the operation, the animal rescue team tranquilized the leopard. The villagers erupted in joy as it was caught and put in a cage.
R Muralidharan, ACF, told The New Indian Express, "The leopard will be released into the forest after an examination."