A trap cage was set up near an abandoned building at Hiranandani, Powai on Friday to capture a free-roaming leopard from the area, forest officials said.
The move comes five days after a leopard was spotted within the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) campus in Powai, near student hostels 7 and 9, where forest officials from the Mumbai forest range said that they will trap the big cat.
“Security officials from IIT-B told us that the leopard was not spotted after last Monday’s sighting and there was no need to set a trap there. However, we got frequent complaints from a nearby location, a kilometre away from the campus, where pug marks have been observed over the last few days,” said Santosh Kank, range forest officer, Mumbai. “We set up the trap cage and kept two chickens as bait for the leopard on Friday.”
He added that the forest department was not clear whether the sightings at these two locations were from two different leopards or the same one. “As of now, we have six forest officials that are patrolling the area to check the leopard’s movement,” said Kank.
Officials from the Thane forest department confirmed that a leopard was frequenting the abandoned building daily and its image was captured (see pic) using camera-traps set up near an abandoned complex (Supreme building).
“While we do not believe that trapping this leopard is the solution, after numerous complaints from nearby human settlements and panicked residents near this abandoned building where the leopard has been coming daily, to avoid any casualties, we set up the trap cage,” said KP Singh, chief conservator of forest, Thane. “We have received permission from the chief wildlife warden, state forest department, Nagpur for the same.”
Singh added that since the leopard has not been spotted near IIT-B, awareness sessions with students, security staff and a night-patrolling team have also been deployed there. “Using the different camera trap images, we will be checking the rosette pattern of the leopard to confirm whether it is the same one,” he said.
Meanwhile, officials from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) said that they were first notified about the presence of this leopard three months ago. “After we received complaints from the area, we visited the site and found that there was a lot of trash near the abandoned building near Hiranandani. This might have attracted dogs, which make up a major portion of a leopard’s prey ,” said Shailesh Deore, range forest officer, SGNP adding that security staff at the building was told to seal the first few floors. “The leopard might be a female, but we are not sure yet.”
CHIEF WILDLIFE WARDEN SAYS
“After we received written complaints from Powai, Mumbai, we issued the order to capture this leopard and release it in its natural habitat. If that is not possible then to find an alternate habitat and the third alternative is to keep the leopard in captivity until forest officials consult me,” said Shree Bhagwan, chief wildlife warden, Maharashtra
“There is no need to trap the leopard as it was a mere sighting. Leopard sightings are common at areas near IIT-B, Powai. The animal has not harmed or posed a danger to anyone on campus. The forest officials should rethink their stance,” said Krishna Tiwari, founder, forest and wildlife conservation society