VELLORE: Around 3.30am on Thursday the 'Animal Rescue Team' received a phone call from the Forest Department asking them to come quickly to Kalarpalayam village in Gudiyatham as there was only a door guarding hundreds of villagers from a leopard. A team led by Veterinary surgeon A Prakash launched a rescue operation.
A five-year-old male leopard had strayed into the village adjoining two Reserve Forests (RFs) - Pallalakuppam and Gundalapalli -- a few hours after midnight, snuck into a house and had attacked the residents. The residents managed to escape and trap the leopard inside.
Dr. Prakash said, "We had difficulty spotting the leopard as it hid behind furniture." The team first tried to distract the animal with a remote toy car. The car was sent into the rooms but the attempt failed. Next, a camera was tied to a thread and was slowly dropped inside the room to spot the hiding animal, but this attempt too failed.
"Then we dropped the idea of bursting crackers but we noticed that the gas cylinder was disconnected from the stove. We didn't want to take any risk," he said. We needed a clear vision to launch a dart in order to tranquilize it, but we were also cautious that one wrong move would put the lives of rescuers and the public at risk, he added.
The team soon spotted a movement. The leopard had moved from the bedroom to the puja room. Confirming the location, the team started drilling into a wall outside the puja room in the hope of annoying the animal. The attempt was successful. The team soon started drilling harder, while Prakash waited outside the main door with the tranquilizer aimed through the window to shoot the animal.
Annoyed with the sound, the leopard was on the move, giving the rescue team a chance to get a clear shot. "I got a clear view of the animal and launched the dart. It hit its hind leg," Prakash said.
After taking the hit, the leopard went inside the puja room.
"Usually when an animal goes into a sedative state, tt's tongue will be out and the head will hang down," Dr Prakash said.
But the team couldn't see the animal to check whether it was sedated.They poked the animal using the Ketch All Pole through the hole made by the drilling. The animal was soon brought out after confirming the sedation in the operation that lasted almost 10 hours. After a check-up the leopard was released into the jungle bordering Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.