Leopard pug marks in Panvel village keep forest officials on toes
A week ago, some villagers of Bhokarpada in Panvel saw pug marks on a ground. Alarmed, they alerted the forest officials. Since then the officials have been patrolling Bhokarpada and the nearby villages of Shivkar and Moho — around 5km to 7km from Panvel city.
Forest officials have confirmed that the pug marks are of a leopard. “This is the first leopard sighted in the village in my tenure of three years. The big cats mostly stray from Matheran, enter into urban areas and return to the forest,” said D Sonawane, range forest officer, Panvel.
Officials said that villagers had also informed them of stray dogs being attacked though no one saw the leopard.
“We have been patrolling for the past one week. Two to three vehicles are permanently stationed in the village and four to five officials are patrolling. We have also asked villagers to be alert and careful while they venture out at night,” said Sonawane. He said they would search for the leopard for another week and ensure the animal has left the area.
PP Chavan, forest official, Karnala Bird Sanctuary, said, “A leopard was sighted around Karnala sanctuary in 2016. But, it did not harm anyone. It is rare to see a leopard in these areas.”
Residents of the three villages said there had been no sighting of leopard till now. Suresh Ubale, 45, a resident of Bhokarpada, said, “We were scared seeing the pug mark and alerted the forest officials. The officials have asked us to be alert until they are sure that the leopard is not in the area.”
Shyamala Gohkar, 75, a resident of Moho, said, “There has been no sighting of leopard earlier. In 2014, a leopard was sighted at Karnala which strayed into Panvel.”
The village heads have been asked to ensure residents are safe. “Though we have not seen the leopard, we are following the instructions,” said Balwant Ghodke, 40, a resident of Shivkar.