Child-killer leopard caught from Film City in Mumbai
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.
The animal is expected to be released later.