Residents of two housing societies in Thane heaved a sigh of relief after the Thane Forest Department received the necessary permissions to trap the leopard that had been sighted a couple of weeks ago.
Two meetings were held yesterday between senior officials of the Thane Forest Department, the team of Mumbaikars for SGNP, and the residents of the societies. The first meeting was held at Wellington co-operative housing society at Hiranandani Estate, Thane, where a leopard was sighted two weeks ago (‘Leopard comes knocking, frightens Thane residents, September 5). Mumbaikars for SGNP is an initiative by Sanjay Gandhi National Park — a team of people that shows and tells people about the park.
At Hiranandani Estate, the meeting turned into a heated debate as residents wanted immediate action. They demanded that the leopard be trapped and released somewhere else. It was only when Anwar Ahmed, deputy conservator of forest, announced that the permission to trap the leopard had been obtained that the residents cooled down.
Finally, the Thane Forest Department has received the permission from the principal chief conservator of forest to trap the leopard of which the frequent sighting has been taking place. The residents have welcomed the move but the wildlife experts are of opinion that there are chances another leopard will come in the territory of the animal that will be removed.
Ahmed said, “We are aware of the anguish of the people, but catching a leopard is not an easy job. Many permissions have to be obtained. Now, that we have received permissions from the Principal Chief Conservator of the Forest, we will trap the animal.”
Also at the meeting was Shiv Sena leader Rajan Vichare, who requested the people to co-operate with the forest department. According to him, leopard sightings were not new to the area. The residents also appealed to the forest department to have a proper boundary wall at the national park to prevent leopards entering the societies.
The second meeting was held at Swastik Park in Brahmand, which is not too far away from Hiranandani Estate. Ten days ago, residents say they saw a leopard at Swastik Park.
Rajendra Giri the former secretary of Swastik Park Society, said, “I have been staying in this area from more than 10 years. But, this is the first time we saw a leopard.”
Locals also pointed out that there has been a decrease in stray dogs in the area by almost 50 per cent, as the leopard has been killing them every other night.
Sunetro Ghoshal, an anthropologist and independent researcher on leopards, from Mumbaikars for SGNP said, “In order to solve this issue, we need to remove stray dogs and the garbage bins should be cleaned at regular basis.”
However, wildlife experts believe this will not do much. Wildlife expert Krishna Tiwari said, “Trapping and translocation of the leopard will only create more problems because a new leopard will come and stay in his territory. How many times will the Forest Department keep on trapping leopards?”
As a precautionary measure, the forest department has asked residents to install halogen lights and floodlights.