1 more leopard trapped in Aarey, but target animal continues to elude forest dept
The forest department trapped another sub-adult female leopard in a cage near Mumbai’s Aarey Colony’s dairy unit number 13 in the early hours on Friday, but later confirmed that the individual is not the same as the one responsible for the recent spate of attacks on humans. Department officials said the animal, which was moved to Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) for examination, will be released back into her natural habitat.
“On Friday early morning, a female leopard got trapped in one of the trap cages at Aarey Milk colony. The rosette pattern of the trapped animal was matched with the camera trap picture of the suspected leopard that we have. The animal that was trapped is not the suspected animal and we are releasing her in the natural habitat. The efforts to trap the suspected leopard will continue,” said Sunil Limaye, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), Maharashtra.
The forest department had installed a fifth cage trap near dairy unit number 13 on the night of October 8, where a 14-year-old boy was attacked by a female, sub-adult female leopard earlier in the day. Since August 31, eight people in Aarey Colony, including a 68-year-old woman and a four-year-old child, have sustained injuries after the leopard charged at them.
A sub-adult female leopard aged between one-and-a-half and two years was previously captured in the early hours of October 1, but was later identified to be a different individual than the female behind the recent attacks, in what are the first signs of human-leopard conflict in the region since 2017. That leopard has since remained in the forest department’s custody.
Limaye’s office has also given permission to tranquilise the problem leopardess, if necessary, though experts and officials both maintained that this option will be exercised only as a last resort as darting leopards is significantly more complicated than tranquilising other big cats.
“We will continue to monitor footage from our camera traps and enforce protection camps and social messaging inside Aarey Colony. Leopards are equal residents of the forest and our priority is safety of both the animal and humans,” said Girija Desai, assistant conservator of forests (Thane).