After a CCTV camera captured footage of a young leopard crossing a street in Mulund (West) on Sunday morning, the forest department asked residents not to panic as the cats are known to frequent the area.
The footage showed a leopard crossing the street near a residential colony located along boundary of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) around 2 am. Officials from the forest department said they had received a call from the residents after they saw the footage.
“If a leopard has been captured on camera, it doesn’t mean the animal needs to be captured. Residents just have to be a little careful and vigilant during such encounters,” said Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forest, Thane forest range. “We have already put together a team that works towards creating awareness about living with leopards.”
Locals also seemed relaxed about spotting the big cat in the area.
“There is no need for people to panic, as leopard movement happens during night and in the wee hours. All we need to do is be careful while driving or riding in the night,” said Vaibhav Waghmode, resident of Silver Oaks society, Mulund.
“Leopards have been frequenting this area for years now. In 2012, a leopard had taken a dog from one of the complexes but there has been no untoward incidents of man-animal conflicts,” said Krishna Tiwari, Mulund resident and founder of Forest and Wildlife Conservation Society. “Since there is green cover in this area, the leopards move freely.”
Limaye added that a team will be visiting Mulund on Monday and Tuesday to conduct awareness drives in four residential complexes. Similar drives will be conducted along with SGNP forest officials on January 26.
“The idea is to create a network in such situations so that residents feel safe, but at the same time there should be no harm to the animal,” said Limaye.
In December, a male leopard was trapped at Mathai Pada near unit 25 in Aarey Milk by officials from Mumbai forest range that left wildlife activists furious. It was the second leopard trapping incident in two months after an eight-year-old male leopard was caught and shifted to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) from Hiranandani, Powai, by the forest department in November.
“Trapping a leopard and displacing it from its natural habitat is not the right thing to do. Leopards are only searching for stray dogs or other smaller animals for their food. They do not pose a threat to humans unless provoked,” said Limaye.