Leopard enters Mumbai apartment, rescued after three hours
A leopard was rescued at the end of a three-hour long operation after the animal entered a residential area in Andheri (East) on Monday morning. The leopard was identified as a two-year-old male and was safely tranquillised. This is the second incident of leopard rescue in Marol and the sixth in a residential zone in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) since 2017.
At around 9am, a leopard entered the compound of Woodland Crest Apartment in Vijaynagar, Marol. “A vehicle cleaner spotted the big cat and thought it was a dog. On realising the animal was a leopard, he informed the police. A crowd had gathered and the scared leopard hid under a white vehicle for some time,” said S Shukla, a resident of the area. “A few people also had sticks in their hands in case the animal turned aggressive.” Locals in the area suspect the animal may have wandered into the residential area from Aarey Milk Colony. A recent leopard census revealed the presence of six adult leopards and three cubs at Aarey Milk Colony which borders the SGNP.
A team of 50 personnel from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Mumbai Police, the fire department and non-government organisations (NGOs) worked together to capture the leopard. The police cordoned off the building, but said crowd management was a challenge. “More awareness is needed for the public to allow the safe passage of animals out of the building. They have only lost their way. Attempts to forcefully take photographs or enter secured areas can be dangerous,” said Anil Pophale, senior police inspector, Powai.
Forest officials reached the spot by 11.30am. Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane, said, “Our SGNP team led by Dr Shailesh Pethe broke into the society office from the first floor, and descended towards the ground floor while separate teams monitored exits as Mumbai Police managed the crowd outside.”
Range forest officer Santosh Kank said, “The animal took cover under the stairs on the ground floor. We formed two teams – one that would focus on safe tranquillization, the other to track the animal’s movement from the exits. From this moment on, he did not move. We used four 22-foot-long nets to cover all exits.”
Senior veterinarian Dr. Pethe said the operation was carried out professionally. “The animal was calm when we spotted him. Within 15 minutes the animal was sedated. Since the leopard was in a fairly open condition, he could have attacked the rescue team several times,” he said.
At 2.45pm, the sedated leopard was taken from Marol to the rescue centre at SGNP. Dr.Pethe said the animal has been identified as a healthy, two-year-old male.
“A body check-up and blood sampling has been done. Once the leopard is found fit, the decision about his release will be taken,” said Dr. Pethe.