The fear of a leopard lurking on the road leading to Aarey Colony Municipal School, Goregaon has scared students and staffers.
The leopard, apparently a male, has been frequently spotted on the road used by students and staffers ever since a female leopard was trapped, nearby, on January 30.
The forest department had laid a trap at Adarsh Nagar after Saurabh Yadav, 12, from the area was mauled by a leopard while he was relieving himself.
Locals are worried that the leopard might either be a grown cub looking for its mother or the mate of the trapped female.
“For the past two weeks, a lot of people coming to the school have come across this leopard that is either seen near a pond or in the forest close to the school. This has increased ever since a female leopard was trapped,” said Anandrai Mogha, president, school management committee, Aarey municipal school.
Kokila Satpute, 30, from Moracha Pada, a hamlet in the area said that she saw the animal close to the school while she was dropping her two children there.
“It was around a week back early in the morning when I saw the leopard near a tree. We were petrified to turn back and walked ahead briskly,” said Satpute.
In another incident, the teachers had to keep the students waiting inside the school in the evening as a leopard had been spotted sitting near the approach road.
“One member of our staff informed us that a leopard was sitting close to the road and hence we decided to ask the students to sit inside the school for a while after school hours,” said Vinayak Walwaikar, a teacher from the school
Experts said that it is quite possible that the leopard might be looking for its mother.
“We have seen cases in the state, where a cub or its mother searching the area after one of them was trapped. Leopard cubs are bigger than their mother and can be mistaken for a normal male leopard,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife ecologist, centre for wildlife studies.