Photos: Mumbai’s Aarey Colony in fear, leopard attacks highest since 2002

Residents in Mumbai’s Aarey colony have shared space with leopards forever but 2017 has seen an increase in the number of leopard attacks --the highest in the last 15 years. Destruction of the leopards’ habitat and a lack of amenities for locals putting them in harm’s way are just a few of the reasons put forward behind this abnormal rise.

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST 10 Photos
1 / 10
A scene of a leopard attack is recreated through taxidermy by Dr Santosh Gaikwad, associate professor at Bombay Veterinary Collge and wildlife taxidermist, at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. For over eight months, tribal hamlets around Film City and Aarey Colony, Goregaon wait anxiously for the first light of dawn, plagued by a spurt in leopard attacks. The areas have reported seven attacks and one death this year, the highest since 2002. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

A scene of a leopard attack is recreated through taxidermy by Dr Santosh Gaikwad, associate professor at Bombay Veterinary Collge and wildlife taxidermist, at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. For over eight months, tribal hamlets around Film City and Aarey Colony, Goregaon wait anxiously for the first light of dawn, plagued by a spurt in leopard attacks. The areas have reported seven attacks and one death this year, the highest since 2002. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
2 / 10
Chandu Jadhav, a tribal leader at Aarey and Vanicha Pada resident keeps vigil by lighting a fire outside his home. His dog Tommy stays by his side and has been attacked by leopards multiple times. The settlements have always shared space with big cats, but every night the kuccha roads here are deserted, doors locked and windows tightly shut. The silence is broken only by the growl of a predator making its way through villages in search of food. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Chandu Jadhav, a tribal leader at Aarey and Vanicha Pada resident keeps vigil by lighting a fire outside his home. His dog Tommy stays by his side and has been attacked by leopards multiple times. The settlements have always shared space with big cats, but every night the kuccha roads here are deserted, doors locked and windows tightly shut. The silence is broken only by the growl of a predator making its way through villages in search of food. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
3 / 10
Bayaji Dadu Bendre, 45, from Chafacha pada in Aarey, faced her worst fears when she was attacked by a leopard on Dussehra, while out to relieve herself in a farm near her home. Lacking basic facilities such as electricity and toilets, the inhabitants of these villages, mostly members of the Warli tribe, don’t step outside, making do with buckets and lanterns as the predators’ shadows loom close outside. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Bayaji Dadu Bendre, 45, from Chafacha pada in Aarey, faced her worst fears when she was attacked by a leopard on Dussehra, while out to relieve herself in a farm near her home. Lacking basic facilities such as electricity and toilets, the inhabitants of these villages, mostly members of the Warli tribe, don’t step outside, making do with buckets and lanterns as the predators’ shadows loom close outside. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
4 / 10
A leopard in captivity at SGNP, Borivli. Tribal leader Prakash Bhoir from Kelti Pada believes that attacks are a result of a decline of the leopards’ habitat. ‘In the past year, there has been a big rise in encroachments and developmental activities, and infrastructure projects are eating into the forest area. All this has squeezed the leopards’ hunting area and pushed them closer to our villages, where there is access to food such as dogs, pigs, and poultry.’ (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

A leopard in captivity at SGNP, Borivli. Tribal leader Prakash Bhoir from Kelti Pada believes that attacks are a result of a decline of the leopards’ habitat. ‘In the past year, there has been a big rise in encroachments and developmental activities, and infrastructure projects are eating into the forest area. All this has squeezed the leopards’ hunting area and pushed them closer to our villages, where there is access to food such as dogs, pigs, and poultry.’ (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
5 / 10
Saiti Pardhi, 40, of Bangurla Pada near Film City has been confronted by leopards thrice since May this year. ‘It was extremely scary, but I made a kind of loud growling sound, and it didn’t attack. This happened three times, but it can attack any time,’ she said. Pardhi has stopped going out alone now, and steps out only when she has at least three villagers for company. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Saiti Pardhi, 40, of Bangurla Pada near Film City has been confronted by leopards thrice since May this year. ‘It was extremely scary, but I made a kind of loud growling sound, and it didn’t attack. This happened three times, but it can attack any time,’ she said. Pardhi has stopped going out alone now, and steps out only when she has at least three villagers for company. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
6 / 10
The forest department has installed emergency blinking lights at the corners of hamlets to ward off leopards. Nathu Rathod, CEO Aarey promises that electricity will come to the hamlets by March 2018 eliminating this need. Bhoir, counters that only a few houses have these lights, a sign ‘...that authorities want us to shift to slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) buildings and free these areas for more infrastructure development’. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

The forest department has installed emergency blinking lights at the corners of hamlets to ward off leopards. Nathu Rathod, CEO Aarey promises that electricity will come to the hamlets by March 2018 eliminating this need. Bhoir, counters that only a few houses have these lights, a sign ‘...that authorities want us to shift to slum rehabilitation authority (SRA) buildings and free these areas for more infrastructure development’. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
7 / 10
Children from Padas like Chafacha, Kelti, Vanicha and others have been instructed to travel only in groups of six and not lesser as they make their way to and from school. The idea is to scare the leopards by making more noise and maintaining safety in numbers. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Children from Padas like Chafacha, Kelti, Vanicha and others have been instructed to travel only in groups of six and not lesser as they make their way to and from school. The idea is to scare the leopards by making more noise and maintaining safety in numbers. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
8 / 10
Forest officials set a camera trap to trace leopard movement. A 2015 SGNP survey says there are 35 leopards in and around the national park and Aarey is among their dominant habitats. Earlier this month, the forest department trapped one at Film City, which they claim was responsible for all attacks since March this year. The tribals however, disagree saying that there are at least three to four leopards that live close to each hamlet. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Forest officials set a camera trap to trace leopard movement. A 2015 SGNP survey says there are 35 leopards in and around the national park and Aarey is among their dominant habitats. Earlier this month, the forest department trapped one at Film City, which they claim was responsible for all attacks since March this year. The tribals however, disagree saying that there are at least three to four leopards that live close to each hamlet. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
9 / 10
The only equipment apart from trap cages available to the forest department is a mega-phone that officers use to warn people about the impending danger of a leopard in the vicinity. Villagers also allege that noise from the daily artillery training by various security agencies such as Force One and State Reserve Police Force, have frightened the predators and prompted them to move closer to the hamlets. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

The only equipment apart from trap cages available to the forest department is a mega-phone that officers use to warn people about the impending danger of a leopard in the vicinity. Villagers also allege that noise from the daily artillery training by various security agencies such as Force One and State Reserve Police Force, have frightened the predators and prompted them to move closer to the hamlets. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
10 / 10
Locals travel through the green lung in the evening. The forest department blames Aarey authorities for not providing civic amenities to these hamlets, which has led to increased conflicts. ‘The leopards and the Warlis are the original inhabitants of Aarey. There will be a solution only once the government acknowledges this and pays heed to their needs,’ said wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya, a sign that the issue is transforming from an ecological problem to a political one. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

Locals travel through the green lung in the evening. The forest department blames Aarey authorities for not providing civic amenities to these hamlets, which has led to increased conflicts. ‘The leopards and the Warlis are the original inhabitants of Aarey. There will be a solution only once the government acknowledges this and pays heed to their needs,’ said wildlife biologist Vidya Athreya, a sign that the issue is transforming from an ecological problem to a political one. (Satish Bate / HT Photo)

UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2017 01:48 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved