By Taniya Dutta
A three-year-old boy and his father had a lucky escape after they bumped into a leopard hiding quietly under the cot in their house in a hilly Indian village.
A female leopard aged around one and a half year old had strayed into a village in Una-in the foothills of Himalaya in Himachal Pradesh early on Sunday morning.
The wild cat had first attacked three persons while trying to escape and later hid inside Dinesh Kumar’s house when he was playing outside with his three year old son Gaurav.
Oblivious to the terrified leopard’s presence, when Dinesh entered the house carrying Gaurav in his lap, the leopard leaped out of the cot and attacked the father and the son.
The two luckily suffered minor injuries and were rushed to a nearby government hospital.
A team of wildlife rescuers were called in for help and after a six hour long operation, the leopard was tranquillised and taken into a nearby zoo.
Yashudeep Singh, divisional forest officer said: “It seems the leopard that is very young had separated from her family and strayed into the village from the nearby jungle which is barely a kilometre away.
“It is a very rare case and happens only one in 100 when a cub gets separated from its mother.”
“We had received a call early morning from the villagers that a leopard was hiding inside Dinesh Kumar’s house. It had panicked and attacked villagers in defence.
“We tranquillised the leopard using a tranquillising gun and later released it in the Gopalpur zoo. It is very healthy.”
The leopard’s first victim was Sukhbir singh, who resisted the attack for 2 minutes. It then attacked Vandana Devi, 20 and Sudesh Kumari, 46, while she was on her way from a milk shop.
All of them were admitted to local hospital where the were discharged after initial checkup.
Dinesh said: “I was playing with my son outside and we did not realise the leopard had been hiding inside our house. As we entered the room, it came out jumping onto me and then grabbed my son’s leg. We immediately rushed out of the house and closed the door.
“It was really a terrifying experience. My son has got deep wounds but mine are not severe but we are lucky that we are safe and alive.”
With the onset of winter, leopards, bears and other carnivores have started descending to the lower hills, close to human settlements in search of food.
According to 2004 census, there were 761 leopards in the state but the numbers have been increasing.
At least 34 people have been killed in leopard attack in the state since 2004. and 367 cases of injury in such attacks have been reported in the same period, out of which 99 cases were of grievous nature.