Nikhil M Ghanekar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, November 21, 2012
A forest department team, Mumbai range, comprising 10 people have trapped three full-grown leopards over the last 48 hours at Maroshi Pada, Aarey Colony, Goregaon (west).
The trapping operations came after a fatal leopard attack on a toddler – Usha Yadav, 2, who was relievingherself near her Tanajiwadi residence at Tembhipada, Bhandup (west) on Saturday night.
In the past fortnight, the forest department has trapped four leopards, all at Maroshi Pada, where another victim Sitabai Paage, 50, was killed on November 2.
Of the three leopards, two are male and one is female. Officials from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park have decided to insert microchips in the tails of the three leopards to track their movements.
“We are in the process of inserting microchips and will, later on, release the leopards inside the park,” said Dr.Vijay Pinjarkar, veterinary officer, SGNP.
Despite the trapping operations, fear continued to haunt Tanajiwadi, as the residents are still come to terms with the death of Yadav.
“On Sunday night, we had put up huge floodlights near the forest area and saw two grown leopards take away a dog in front of us. We are living in fear,” said Shailesh, 20, a resident of Tanajiwadi, adivasi gaothan.
Senior forest officials said that following the trapping operations at Maroshi Pada, traps have also been laid near Tanajiwadi. “There is a fear psychosis among the residents in Tembhipada. Since they spotted leopards attacking a dog, we decided to set traps there too,” said GT Chavan, deputy conservator of forest (territorial division), Thane.
Wildlife activists though said that trapping leopards should be avoided, as it will not guarantee the safety of humans or the wild cats in the long run. “We should spend maximum energy on preventing leopard attacks and prepare those living around leopards to co-exist. For leopards, humans are predators and hence they are scared of us. The prevailing fear has left no recourse but that of trapping leopards right now,” said Vidya Athreya, a biologist and a wildlife expert.