Forest officials said they shot dead a leopard, suspected to have killed two people, near Murbad, Thane. Forest department staff shot the eight-year-old adult male leopard on Wednesday near Kalambad village at 6.30pm
A 54-year-old woman was found dead with injuries on Friday evening. On Sunday, a 52-year-old man was found dead. As many as 11 cattle and goats were also killed. Suspecting that the same animal killed the two villagers and cattle, forest officials had set up traps to capture the leopard but were unsuccessful.
“After failing to trap the leopard over the past three days, we were forced to shoot it,” said KP Singh, chief conservator of forest, Thane adding that different teams consisting of more than 60 forest officials from across Maharashtra were deployed to trap it. “We needed to secure the lives of civilians. We had no option but to put down the animal. A cow had also been killed by the big cat on Tuesday, after which we were able to trace it.”
He added that an investigation will be done to check whether the leopard had moved in from another area. “We will check whether the leopard had been chipped and check for its movement pattern. As of now it is unclear where the animal came from,” said Singh.
On Sunday, the Thane forest division received permission from the chief wildlife warden to take any means necessary to stop the attacks. Forest officials said on Monday that there have never been any man-animal conflicts from the area prior to this.
Wildlife biologists said the forest department did the right thing to ensure the villagers’ safety, however, they need to keep a close eye when it comes to the translocation of aggressive animals. “The forest department used the correct administrative procedure to put the animal down for the security of residents and their cattle,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist.