Patrolling, trapping increased after Bhandup leopard attack

After Saturday night's leopard attack on a toddler in Bhandup East, the fourth such in five months, the forest department has started trapping leopards. It has also increased patrolling in affected areas.

Two-and-a-half-year-old Usha Yadav was killed when she went to answer nature's call to a forest near her home in Tembipada on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). "Patrolling in all areas where attacks have taken place in the last few months has been stepped up. The patrolling starts at around 8 pm and ends around 5 am," said Sudhir Padwale, assistant conservator of forests (ACF), Thane.

The Thane forest department also trapped two leopards in Aarey Colony, where Shweta Paghe (50) of Maroshipada was killed on November 2.

"A few days ago, we trapped a male leopard aged 7-8 years. However, we cannot say the same animal attacked the woman. It has been kept at the SGNP leopard rehabilitation centre," said Padwale. "This (Monday) morning, we trapped a leopard of around 12 to 13 months from the same area. Due to this, his mother has become agressive. We have laid a trap for her too," he said.

Between December 2006 and June 2012, there were no official reports of death due to leopard attacks in Mumbai. The first death since 2006 occurred on July 16. Six-year-old Sanjana Thorat of Shankar Tekdi in Mulund West was killed when she went to forest to relieve herself.

Thereafter, the Aarey colony incident occurred and on November 5, a 50-year-old man was allegedly mauled by a leopard near Khindipada in Mulund west. Wildlife experts agree the recent spate of deaths is worrying but point out that these may be cases of mistaken identity.

"In most cases, the victims had gone to answer nature's calls and were squatting. Leopards may have mistaken them for a small animal and attacked. Leopards never attack a standing person or if you carry a torch or there is a source of light," said Krishna Tiwari, head of NGO Forest and Wildlife Conservation Centre.

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