On the morning of New Year’s Day, 19-year-old Vinod Hadal stepped out of his Maroshipada residence in Aarey Colony to answer the call of nature. As he was squatting near some bushes a few feet away from his house, seemingly out of nowhere, a leopard pounced upon him.
Hearing the young man’s cries, his father Ramji Hadal rushed out of the house and began shouting, managing to scare the big cat, which walked away and took refuge in the thick vegetation nearby.
“Very often we see a leopard passing through our neighbourhood. Thankfully, my yells caused the feline that attacked my son to run away into the bushes,” Ramji told MiD DAY.
This is the fourth case in the last seven months when a leopard has attacked a person who was in a crouching position at the time. It should be noted that this is the same location where an old woman was killed in such an attack two months ago.
Vinod was fortunate, as he escaped with some injuries. Soon after the latest incident, a trap was set up in the area by Thane forest department and three leopards were caught, which were later taken to the Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Sanjay Gandhi National Park.
Speaking to MiD DAY, assistant conservator of forests (ACF) Sudhir Padwale said, “We came to know about the attack in the morning after which our team went to the spot.”
The victim was taken to Bhagvati hospital. Doctors there told this newspaper that his condition is stable and he will be sent home soon. “He has suffered some bruises on his face, neck and back of the head in the leopard attack. However, his condition is stable and there are no serious injuries,” said a senior doctor from Bhagwati hospital.
Locals in the area alleged that the reason behind the rising incidents of man-animal conflict is that leopards ensnared by forest officials in other areas are released near Aarey.
After the women was killed, local representatives promised the forest department that they will construct more public toilets so that people don’t have to urinate and defecate in the open. Work is already in progress.