Last Friday turned out to be a cat-eat-dog day in Mulund. A stray ended up being a late night meal for a leopard that had entered the Lok Nisarg Housing Society.
According to the residents, the society -- located adjacent to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) -- is frequented by the big cats.
The CCTV installed in the building captured the entire attack that lasted around nine seconds and this dog was the sixth one to satisfy a leopard’s hunger in the premises. Surprisingly, the same dog was attacked by a leopard last year also, but it has escaped by the skin of its teeth at that time.
What’s surprising is that the society members and the watchmen of the building wave away the ‘threat’ that the wandering big cats pose to humans. On the contrary, according to them, the beasts run away when they come close.
Around 2 am on Friday, a stray dog entered the building lobby all set to curl up and take a nap. Around 30 minutes later, a leopard slinked in.
The entry of the big cat was so quiet that the dog didn’t know what hit it, or rather pulled it, until the beast had its jaws around the canine’s neck. The CCTV installed in the lobby captured the video (for complete footage, log on to www.mid-day.com) that was given to MiD DAY by a resident.
Motiram Ghorpade (70), a watchman of the building said, “I have been the watchman in this building for over seven years now. During this tenure, I had various close encounters with leopards visiting the building but none of the beasts tried to attack me.
According to my experience, the leopard runs away on seeing humans. In the last four years, the leopard has hunted around five dogs and the one that was killed on Friday was the sixth dog.”
Making a point
The society members have written several letters to the Thane Forest Department that is responsible for the area, asking the authorities to take precautions whenever leopards are sighted, but there has been no response.
Prakash Nagad (38), a resident of the building since a decade, said, “On various occasions, we have seen leopards but till date none of the beasts have caused any problem to humans.
However, as it’s a wild animal, we cannot predict its nature and so the forest department should suggest proper measures that need to be taken when a leopard is sighted.
We have also written several letters to the territorial wing of Thane Forest Department and have always updated them about the sightings in our society. However, no one has visited the society to inform us about precautions.”
A team from SGNP with volunteers from ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ is planning to visit the society soon to create awareness about the man-animal conflict and the precautions that need to be taken.
Biologist Vidya Athreya from Centre for Wildlife Studies (Bangalore) said, “Well, as they have seen, it is no threat to humans unless cornered or chased. People living near the park have no option but to understand that the animals also enter their space because of food sources like dogs and garbage.If basic dos and don’ts are followed, it will lead to minimal conflict. The FD cannot respond to trapping requests as animals come back to fill in vacant spaces. But SGNP would want to hold a meeting if we know of these instances - along with the FD team.”
The other side
Meanwhile, Speaking to MiD DAY, Thane Chief Conservator of Forest R K Pole said, “A leopard is a very shy animal and usually runs away whenever it sees a human. We have received a letter from the society. We will soon send our team to the spot along with a team of SGNP. I would like to appeal to the people staying in the building that whenever they see a leopard, they should not try to corner or provoke the animal, as it will lead to conflict. They should inform us instead.”