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Forest officials to install cage to trap leopard after it was sighted near IIT-B hostels

Three days after a leopard was spotted within the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) campus in Powai, officials from the Mumbai forest range said that they will trap the big cat.

mumbai Updated: Nov 10, 2016 15:42 IST
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay,Powai,IIT-B
Unverified photo of the leopard at the IIT-B campus that has been doing rounds in the social media.

Three days after a leopard was spotted within the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) campus in Powai, officials from the Mumbai forest range said that they will trap the big cat.

Forest officials said that they had been instructed by the Nagpur forest division to track the leopard using camera-traps to monitor their movement and install a trap cage in the area.

“We have been told by the state forest department to trap the leopard at the earliest. We have already set up the camera traps and will be installing the cage by Friday within the campus,” said Santosh Kank, range forest officer, Mumbai.

The IIT-B campus, on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park, is known to be frequented by leopards during the night time. The campus is abuzz with the latest sighting of a leopard near two hostels – 7 and 9 - at the north-western edge, adjacent to the national park.

Experts said that there is no need to trap the leopard as it was a mere sighting. “Leopard sightings are common at areas near IIT-B, Powai. The animal has not harmed or posed a danger to anyone on campus. The forest officials should rethink their stance,” said Krishna Tiwari, founder, forest and wildlife conservation society.

On Tuesday, the IIT-B security office issued a notice to all campus residents, advising them to be cautious while moving in that area. They also shared a list of guidelines given by SGNP officials in order to resolve man-animal conflicts. “Since IIT Bombay is always frequented by leopards, these guidelines will be helpful in taking precautions when dealing with them, so that we can face least problems due to their presence,” read the notice.

An unconfirmed photograph of the big cat from one of the hostels has gone viral on social media portals. “Students are not really afraid as leopard sightings are frequent in the campus during the night,” said an IIT-B student.

Another student said that the leopard sighting has become a talking-point on campus. “Students have been joking about it and have been circulating the photograph to create awareness about what the leopard looks like,” said Kamranullah Khan, an MTech student, IIT-B.

SGNP officials said the prey base of leopards constituted of domestic animals, mainly dogs, which were attracting them to the campus. “The campus authorities have to make sure that open food waste from the campus has to be removed that attract dogs. Automatically, leopards will not enter the campus area in search of them,” said Anwar Ahmed, new chief conservator and director, SGNP. “Students need to not panic but need to alert campus authorities about any recent sightings.”

A study undertaken by SGNP in collaboration with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) from December 2014 to April 2015, found 35 free-roaming leopards across 140 square km, including areas outside SGNP, the Nagla forest block across the Vasai Creek and the Aarey Milk Colony.

List of guidelines for students to follow at IIT-B campus

  • Be alert after dark (when leopards are active). Put on music on the mobile phone so that the big cat knows that you are human being, which it goes out of its way to avoid.
  • Do not move about alone after dark.
  • If a leopard is sighted, give it way and allow it to move peacefully. - Mere sightings of leopards do not translate into danger.
  • Do not form a crowd around the animal.
  • Ensure that the garbage is disposed and no feral dogs are present in the locality.

(Source: Sanjay Gandhi National Park)

First Published: Nov 10, 2016 15:41 IST