Child-killer leopard caught in Mumbai’s Film City
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Child-killer leopard caught in Mumbai’s Film City

The animal is being quarantined and checked for injuries, and is expected to be released in the forest later.

mumbai Updated: Sep 14, 2017 16:40 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,leopard attack,leopard trapped
The animal is being quarantined and checked for injuries, and is expected to be released in the forest later.(HT Photo)

Nearly two months after traps were set up in Aarey Milk Colony and Film City, Goregaon, to catch a leopard suspected to have attacked five children, killing one, forest officials in Mumbai said that the animal has been caught.

A three-and-half year old male leopard was trapped in a cage near the Aarey helipad in Film City at 11pm on Wednesday, forest officials said. The animal is being quarantined and checked for injuries, and is expected to be released in the forest later. Forest officers are convinced that this was the leopard responsible for the attacks on children.

“The leopard was immediately transferred to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) for a medical checkup last night itself,” said Jitendra Ramgaokar, deputy conservator of forest, Thane forest range. “It was a scientific study to identify the problem animal. We laud the efforts of our forest officers and those who have supported them for their persistent efforts to ensure that the area remains safe. The fact that no attacks have happened since July is testament for the same.”

HT has been reporting since March about leopard attacks in Aarey and Film City, which border SGNP, that has around 35 leopards. Following attacks, the last of which was recorded in July, the state forest department installed two trap cages and stopped outdoor shoots at Film City and its neighbourhood in a 5km radius between Bapu Dham gate and the helipad, until the leopard was caught.

“Using camera trap images to trace the animal’s movement and goats as bait, we trapped the big cat,” said Ramgaokar.

Senior officials from Thane forest range said that the leopard will be microchipped and released in its natural habitat as per protocol. “The animal will not be kept captive for more than eight days and released at an area within the premises of the national park itself. The microchip will help us follow its movement and study it’s habitat properly,” said Sunil Limaye, chief conservator of forest, Thane forest range.

“Tranquillizing the animal was not an option because it would lead to health hazards for the leopard, since we hardly know anything about its medical condition,” he added.

HT had reported that the forest department was concerned about trapping a wrong leopard as a mother and cub were also reported to be in the area. “We will trace the pug mark of this leopard and check whether he has any injuries to understand why so many attacks took place,” said Limaye.

A 15-member team had been trying to track the leopard since July. Forest officials said there could be six other leopards in the area bordering the park near Film City and Aarey. There are eight padas (tribal settlements), apart from slums and facilities like the Film City, in the area. The forest department had conducted programmes in these places to help people living in the area avoid attacks by the cats.

The attacks

July 28: 13-year-old Aarey Milk Colony resident, Aniket Dileep Page, was attacked near the pump house around 3.30pm.

July 22: Two-year-old Vihaan Nilesh Garuda, son of an SGNP staff member, was attacked and killed near Maroshipada, a hamlet near Film City.

May 29: A four-year-old boy, who lived at Royal Palms, Goregaon, was attacked

March 17: A three-year-old boy was attacked near Khadakpada, a tribal hamlet. The boy escaped with injuries on his chest and throat after residents scared the leopard away.

May 21: A three-year-old boy was saved by his mother, who snatched him away from the claws of a leopard that had pounced on him in Chafyachapada, Aarey. The boy suffered minor injuries.

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 14:21 IST