A six-year-old male leopard died on the spot after being hit by an unidentified vehicle on Monday morning at 6 am near Ghoti toll-naka, 140-kilometres away from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Nasik highway.
Forest officials said that the leopard was hit by a speeding vehicle while it was trying to cross the road. “The toll area is surrounded by forests and leopards frequently cross the road from one side of the forest to the other. They are unable to understand the speed of an on-coming vehicle. Witnesses said that in a bid to cross faster, the leopard jumped and the vehicle smashed into the it,” said Ramesh Dhomase, range forest officer, Igatpuri, Nasik district.
Dhomase added that a post-mortem of the leopard was conducted soon after the incident and the body was burned at a nearby forest range office. “We are carrying out investigations to find the vehicle and the driver,” he said.
Experts said that 15 leopards had died in the last decade due to speeding vehicles accidents across Maharashtra. “The forest department needs to put up signboards along highways cutting through forested areas so that people drive slowly and can note if an animal is crossing the road,” said Krishna Tiwari, founder, forest and wildlife conservation society.