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Home / Mumbai News / 5-year-old leopard strays into old gym in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, rescued within 2 hours

5-year-old leopard strays into old gym in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony, rescued within 2 hours

Rescue operation is being said to be the quickest in Mumbai Metropolitan Region so far

mumbai Updated: May 14, 2018, 12:41 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The leopard that was rescued from Aarey Colony on Sunday.
The leopard that was rescued from Aarey Colony on Sunday. (HT photo )

In what is being said to be the fastest leopard rescue operation reported from Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) so far, forest officials rescued a five-year-old leopard from Maharashtra State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) camp in Aarey Colony, Goregaon, on Sunday, in less than two hours.

Garbage dumps create hot spots: Forest dept
  • HT had reported in February that a survey of SGNP, Borivli, and its surrounding forest has confirmed the area has 41 leopards. Using camera traps, researchers surveyed 140sqkm, photographing 27 leopards for the first time.
  • Other forest officers involved in the operation said such cases were only expected to increase if garbage treatment at source is not done. “The garbage attracts dogs (leopard’s prey base), which further attracts the big cat. With SGNP in close proximity to these human-dominated areas, citizens have to remember to segregate, clear garbage, and avoid making these hot spots where dogs can congregate,” said Sanjay Waghmode, superintendent, Lion and Tiger Safari, SGNP.

This is the fourth successful rescue operation by forest department in the past six months, with reports of the big cat entering housing societies in Andheri, Mulund, and Uhasnagar.

Around 8.30am Sunday, personnel from SRPF camp at unit 8, Aarey Colony, informed forest department control room that a leopard had strayed into an abandoned structure that was previously used as a gym, said forest officials.

By 9.30am, 25 forest officials from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) rescue team and Thane forest department reached the spot and initiated rescue operation.

“SRPF personnel told us the animal was spotted around the camp earlier as well. The leopard, unfortunately, lost his way and took shelter in this structure,” said Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane forest range, who supervised the rescue operation.

Within 5 minutes, all exits to the structure were so the leopard does not escape while being tranquillised. “It was a risky operation as the animal was aggressive, but we handled it professionally,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinarian, SGNP, who tranquillised the leopard. “As I was about to shoot the dart, the leopard tried to attack me. However, our team member raised the shield at the right time. This allowed me do my work safely. The entire process took 45 minutes.”

Leopards spotted in human habitations in 6 months
  • December 10, 2017: After a female leopard strayed into the Sher-e-Punjab housing society in Andheri (East), a 12-hour rescue operation by the forest department, Mumbai police, non-governmental organisations and fire officials ensured the animal was rescued and untoward situations avoided. Close to 100 people were involved in the rescue operation where the leopard had made its way to a playschool located at the ground floor of one of the buildings at the housing society.
  • January 13: A male leopard attacked six residents after straying into a society in Nanepada, Mulund (East). The forest department and police conducted a four-hour-long rescue operation, following which a team from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) tranquillised the animal and rushed it to the rescue centre.
  • March 18: A 4-year-old leopard accidentally entered a bungalow at Bhatia Chowk in Ulhasnagar while the owner and his family were at home. While man-animal conflict did not take place, the leopard was rescued by a team of forest officials and local police within four hours. This was the first time a leopard was spotted within residential limits of Ulhasnagar city.

After the rescue, leopard was shifted into a trap cage and was sent to leopard rescue centre at SGNP by 11.30am.

“SRPF officers are disciplined, there was no issue of crowd management, The entire operation was completed within two hours. Since no one panicked, the rescue operation went smooth,” said Ramgaokar, adding call to release the animal back into the wild will be taken on Monday.

Pethe said the leopard did not receive any major injuries, but was drowsy from the effects of the drugs used for tranquilisation. “The medical examination revealed the animal is healthy. We collected samples and micro-chipped him for future identification. We will monitor his health overnight,” he said.

Animal welfare groups that assisted forest officials said a complicated rescue was made simple by officials. “Flawless team work and coordination, which played a key role, and crowd management not being a problem, a difficult operation was completed easily,” said Pawan Sharma, president, Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW).

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