Aarey police grappling with leopard menace
Controlling crime and nabbing criminals is their job, but dealing with leopards is certainly not.mumbai Updated: Apr 08, 2011 01:08 IST
Controlling crime and nabbing criminals is their job, but dealing with leopards is certainly not.
The number of leopards spotted every now and then in Aarey Colony has given sleepless nights to policemen in this area, which is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Fearing for their life, policemen often refrain from patrolling in this forested area. The leopard, which has been sighted here, comes out in search of food after dusk.
“The leopard has been visiting the locality on a regular basis for the past few months. The animal sits right in front of the patrolling vehicle for hours. Policemen are often forced to stay put in their vehicle till the leopard moves away,” said a police officer from Aarey police station.
The Aarey police have now written to the forest department to come up with a solution to this problem. The police claim that despite several attempts, the forest department has failed to respond and take steps to trap the animal.
Laxman Tonpe, senior police inspector, Aarey police station, said, “It is illegal to kill a wild animal and we do not know how to deal with this problem. We have not been trained for this. We are waiting for response from the forest department.”
On March 29, a leopard was sighted in this area. The animal, which was stuck in an unused water tunnel, rescued and sent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park. “But we manage to catch very few leopards and send them to a nearby national park,” said Tonpe.
While some locals said that even though the animal often strays out of the forest into a residential area, no person has been harmed ever. But a leopard’s presence is a menace. “We are worried and scared. I have asked my children not to step out alone,” said Kumar Singh, who runs a cigarette shop in Aarey Milk Colony.
A few days ago, a police team spotted a leopard while entering the police station compound. The animal pounced on a stray dog and carried him away.
“We were so scared that we did not even think twice before turning back and running for our lives,” said a police officer.