Following the death of 50-year-old Sitabai Paage, who was killed by a leopard at Maroshi Pada, Aarey Colony at Goregaon on Friday night, the forest department has started a hunt for the leopard by setting up two trap cages in the forest behind the tribal hamlet.
At 9.20pm on Friday, Paage was attacked by a leopard that clawed at her throat while she was relieving herself in a makeshift toilet. The leopard dragged her more than 60 metres away, from where the homes were situated, into a thicket.
Paage became the third victim of a leopard attack this year. As forest officials did not turn up at the location of the attack to meet them on Saturday morning, furious residents had planned to take Paage’s body to Aarey Colony police station in protest, but decided against it after the forest department decided to set up traps by Saturday evening.
Paage’s nephew Ganesh Kharpade, 26, saw the leopard dragging his aunt away.
“I raised an alarm and gathered other residents when I saw the leopard. We followed the leopard into the forest and eventually, he let go off my aunt’s body. But it was too late as she had bled to death by then,” Kharpade said.
According to residents of Maroshi Pada, leopards roam the hamlet freely in the evening.
“In the past, leopards have attacked and killed goats in our area and are often seen in the thick grass in and around the hamlet after 5 pm. They are seen often perched on the Aarey dairy compound wall,” said Prabhu Urade, 45, a labourer from the hamlet. SGNP director Sunil Limaye said forest officials would be patrolling the area and volunteers from ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ would be interacting with residents following Friday night’s incident. “The traps placed in the forest will act as a reassurance for residents in Maroshi Pada who are scared right now. We want to tell them that given the area they live in, they have to learn to co-exist with wildlife,” Limaye said.