A pack of dogs chased a young leopard out of an apartment complex at Goregaon on Tuesday night. The feat was captured by a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera on the premises, the forest department said.
The incident took place at Girikunj Society at Dindoshi, Goregaon (East), which adjacent to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). Several leopards have been seen in the area in recent months but local residents said this was the first time one entered their society.
Shailesh Rao, a resident and member of Mumbaikars for SGNP, which spreads awareness about living with leopards, said, “The video clearly shows a dog is first attacked and dragged by the leopard behind some vehicles. But the dog manages to get out of the leopard’s grip and alert two other dogs, which rush to the spot and force the leopard to back off and return to the forest.”
According to a study conducted by SGNP in 2015, dogs comprise a major portion of leopards’ prey base, especially for those leopards that live close to urban areas. “There is a need to treat waste properly at housing societies to control the population of stray dogs, which attract the big cat,” said Santosh Kank, range forest officer, Mumbai.
Tuesday’s incident came a month after leopards were last spotted in a Mumbai suburb. On January 22, and again on January 31 and February 1, a sub-adult leopard was seen on CCTV footage crossing a road lined with parked vehicles near a residential complex adjacent to SGNP. A much younger leopard was seen crossing the road a minute later. The incident prompted forest officials to install camera traps to monitor the animals’ movements.
“A team of forest officials are patrolling the area every night to prevent any untoward incidents. Residents are panicked and we are getting distress calls but there is nothing to worry about as leopard sightings are common in the area,” said Kank. “Teams from SGNP and Thane territorial have already begun awareness drives at the housing society.”
He added, “As of now we do not have such plans for the Goregaon society but regular patrolling will be done and more action will be taken if required.”
Rao said that residents were aware about leopard sightings but still needed to be sensitised. “An awareness drive has been scheduled with residents from Girikunj and Girishikhar over the weekend. They have been told not to panic if they spot a leopard and to inform the forest department immediately,” he said.
A resident, who did not wish to be named, said that people needed to be careful while walking jogging early in the morning or after sunset. “Parents need to make sure that their children are indoors after sunset and there needs to be coordination among various societies close to the park for swift communication,” she said.
A survey undertaken SGNP in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India from December 2014 to April 2015 found 35 free-roaming leopards across 140 sq km, including areas outside SGNP, the Nagla forest block across the Vasai Creek, and Aarey Milk Colony.
“In 2012, a leopard had snatched a dog from an apartment complex but there have been no incidents involving people of late,” said Krishna Tiwari, a Mulund resident and founder of the Forest and Wildlife Conservation Society.