A seven-year-old male leopard was run over on Saturday at 7 am near Ozarde village, close to Talegaon on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. This is the fourth leopard to be killed in four months in the state.
Wildlife conservationists said leopards are forced to enter residential areas owing to the destruction of their habitat, a declining prey base and a lack of adequate space and water sources. Since these cats prefer to move around at night, they are often hit and killed by vehicles travelling on roads that cross wildlife corridors.
According to the Pune forest department, the leopard was hit by a high-speed vehicle travelling from Mumbai to Pune. “The post-mortem revealed that the leopard’s right leg was injured and this is possibly why it could not cross the road in time. The hit-and-run shattered the animal’s rib cage. It died of brain haemorrhage,” said Satyajeet Gujar, deputy conservator of forest, Pune territorial.
A case was registered under section 9 (prohibition of hunting) of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA),1972 against unidentified people. Leopards are protected under schedule 1 of WPA.
Local forest guards are in the process of tracing the vehicle. “We will check CCTV camera footage from the toll closest to the accident spot. The local police have also been informed,” said S Takawale, range forest officer from the area. “As such cases are on the rise across Maharashtra, we want to nab the accused so that there is some deterrence.”
Fourth incident in four months
• On February 24, a six-year-old male leopard was run over by a speeding vehicle near the Sativali, Vasai on National Highway 8, also known as the Mumbai-Ahmadabad highway.
• On January 26, a four-year-old female leopard was killed in a road accident along the Pune-Nasik highway.
• On November 2 last year, a six-year-old male leopard died on the spot after being hit by an unidentified vehicle near Ghoti toll naka, 140km from Mumbai.