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High drama as leopard enters village in north Mumbai

The cat had entered the rear gallery of a house in Gokhivare village; the SGNP team had a tough time rescuing the animal because of the crowds, and took six hours for the operation

It was a day like no other for residents of Gokhivare village in Vasai (East) yesterday. A leopard showed up in one of the houses in the village.

Thousands showed up to see the new entrant in the village. A few policemen fended off the mob
Thousands showed up to see the new entrant in the village. A few policemen fended off the mob

Thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of the animal, making life difficult for the team of animal rescuers from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). The village is close to the Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary.

The leopard was rescued after a six-hour operation. Pics/Nimesh Dave
The leopard was rescued after a six-hour operation. Pics/Nimesh Dave

The leopard was spotted around 5.30-6 am, when a villager noticed the cat sitting perched upon the rear balcony of a house. When the SGNP team reached the village around 9.30 am, nearly 3,000 people had gathered.

This posed a double danger the possibility of the animal panicking and causing a man-leopard conflict, which could have then resulted in a stampede.

The SGNP rescue team members were seen telling the people to keep away, but the crowd wouldn’t listen; some even shouted and came closer. The team was headed by Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Santosh Saste and veterinarian Dr Sanjeev Pinjarkar. ACF Saste said, “Managing this mob and rescuing the animal was tough job.”

To ensure the feline was taken in without injuries, the team fenced the gallery in on its three sides. Then, through an opening, the leopard was tranquilised and taken to SGNP. Dr Pinjarkar told mid-day, “It is a male leopard and appears to be fit. After reaching SGNP, we will check whether it has a microchip or not. If not, we will insert it.”

Aditya Gupe, a Vasai resident and an animal lover, said, “I’m happy that the animal was safely rescued. I don’t know why there were so few policemen to manage a crowd of 3,000.” Forest officials are unaware as to how the leopard ventured into this end, as the wildlife sanctuary is on the other side of the highway.

>> The leopard was spotted around 5.30 am 
>> A mob of 3,000 had gathered to see the animal
>> The feline was tranquilised and brought back to SGNP

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