Panic spread across Vedi village of Palghar district after a villager discovered a half-eaten carcass of a calf preyed upon by a leopard. However, the forest department officials have asked the villagers to stay clam and alert. They said the big cat might have strayed into the village looking for water and food, as the number wild boars, its natural prey, is dwindling in the wild.
“The calf belonged to Jitendra Mhatre, a resident of Vedi village, and its half-eaten body was found a few metres away from his field,” said Dinesh Desale, range forest officer, Saphale.
The carcass was spotted by Jitendra’s wife Pritija after she went looking for the missing calf. Jitendra was visiting his son in Mumbai when the leopard preyed on the calf. Pritija informed the forest department officials, who reached the spot and did the panchnama. As per government rules, the Mhatres are eligible for a compensation of anywhere between Rs3,000 to Rs5,000.
“Last month, the leopard took one of our cows. Now, a calf. We’ve been living in fear,” said Pritija.
Commenting on the measures implemented to track the carnivore’s movement, Desale said that camera traps have been installed at Kiraipada, Bhavangadh fort, Chatale, Mathane, Virathan and surrounding areas.
“Ever since pug marks of a leopardess and her cub were first spotted in December 2016 near a waterhole in Kiraipada, the big cat has eluded us. Moreover, in my range, there are two of leopards (male and female), who cover at least 20 km each day in search of food and water. It looks like the drying waterholes and declining natural prey [wild boars] is forcing the big cats to leave their territories and stray into villages,” said Desale.
He added that villagers need not panic, as none of the leopards have attacked humans so far.
“However, we are taking no chances and have distributed pamphlets asking the villagers to stay calm and alert. Also, warning boards have been installed informing people about the presence of leopards and to inform us upon spotting one,” said Desale.