A female leopard cub, aged around 6 months, fell into an abandoned well and drowned in Sanjay Gandhi National Park’s (SGNP) Yeoor range yesterday morning. The incident took place at Lokmanya Nagar Pada number 4.
“Around 9.30 am, the range forest officer got a call regarding the mishap. Immediately, the RFO and his team rushed to the spot and saw that people were trying to save the cub,” SGNP Director and Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Sunil Limaye said.
“They had taken it out of the well but were not able to save the cub. Prima facie it appears that the cub died due to drowning. However, the exact reason will come forward only after the post mortem.”
“The cub must have come to drink water and fallen into the well in the process. As the cub was very small it was not able to swim and drowned,” said Sushant Salgaonkar, RFO of Yeoor Range.
According to sources from forest department, there are around four to five artificial water holes in the area that are regularly filled during summer season so that leopards do not have to search for water.
“As there are encroachments at some places in the area, the people staying in the slums visit these water holes during the day and sometimes even wash clothes in them. As a result, the animals don’t approach the water hole. We will start the demolition drive against the encroachments soon and will see to it that the water is not polluted so that such accidents can be avoided. We will also conduct surprise visits and action will be taken against those polluting the water,” added Salgaonkar.
“The incident where a small cub died due to drowning is really unfortunate,” said Krishna Tiwari, wildlife expert. “In order to avoid such things, the forest department should make sure that abundant water is available for wild animals so that they don’t have to go to wells in search of water. The forest department should also start surprise visits to water holes to make sure that locals staying in padas and slums are not polluting the water.”