Child-killer leop­ard caught from Film City in Mum­bai

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Badri Chat­ter­jee badri.chat­ter­jee@hin­dus­tan­times.com

two months after traps were set up in Aarey Milk Colony and Film City, Gore­gaon, to catch a leop­ard sus­pected to have at­tacked five chil­dren and killed one, for­est of­fi­cials in Mum­bai said that the an­i­mal has been caught.

A three-and-half year old male leop­ard was trapped in a cage near the Aarey he­li­pad in Film City at 11pm on Wed­nes­day, for­est of­fi­cials said. The an­i­mal is be­ing quar­an­tined and checked for in­juries, and is ex­pected to be re­leased in the for­est later. For­est of­fi­cers are con­vinced that this was the leop­ard re­spon­si­ble for the at­tacks on chil­dren.

“The leop­ard was im­me­di­ately trans­ferred to the Sanjay Gandhi Na­tional Park (SGNP) for a med­i­cal check-up last night it­self,” said Ji­ten­dra Ram­gaokar, deputy con­ser­va­tor of for­est, Thane for­est range. “It was a sci­en­tific study to iden­tify the prob­lem an­i­mal. We laud the ef­forts of our for­est of­fi­cers and those who have sup­ported them for their per­sis­tent ef­forts to en­sure that the area re­mains safe. The fact that no at­tacks have hap­pened since July is tes­ta­ment to the same.”

HT has been re­port­ing since March about leop­ard at­tacks in Aarey and Film City, which bor­der SGNP, that has around 35 leop­ards. Fol­low­ing at­tacks, the last of which was recorded in July, the state for­est depart­ment in­stalled two trap cages and stopped out­door shoots at Film City and its neigh­bour­hood in a 5km ra­dius be­tween Bapu Dham gate and the he­li­pad, un­til the leop­ard was caught.

“Us­ing cam­era trap im­ages to trace the an­i­mal’s move­ment and goats as bait, we trapped the big cat,” said Ram­gaokar.

Se­nior of­fi­cials from Thane for­est range said that the leop­ard will be mi­crochipped and re­leased in its nat­u­ral habi­tat as per pro­to­col. “The an­i­mal will not be kept cap­tive for more than eight days and re­leased at an area within the premises of the park it­self. The mi­crochip will help us fol­low its move­ment and study it’s habi­tat prop­erly,” said Su­nil Li­maye, chief con­ser­va­tor of for­est, Thane for­est range.

“Tran­quil­lis­ing the an­i­mal was not an op­tion be­cause it would lead to health haz­ards for the leop­ard, since we hardly know any­thing about its med­i­cal con­di­tion,” he added. A 15-mem­ber team had been try­ing to track the leop­ard since July. For­est of­fi­cials said there could be six other leop­ards in the area.

HT PHOTO

The an­i­mal is ex­pected to be re­leased later.

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