The Swanpna Nagri area in the Mulund (west) made news again as a leopard sleeping in the basement of National Education Society (NES) school was allegedly spotted by a construction worker on Saturday morning.
A Forest Department team, headed by Deepak Sawant, assistant conservator of forest, Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), rushed to the spot at around 12.30 pm and a search operation was conduced by the officials till 5.30 pm. They, however, failed to spot the leopard. As a precautionary measure, a cage has been set up in the basement of the school so that the leopard can be safely rescued and released into the forest.
“On Saturday, the SGNP control room received a call from the school saying that a leopard was spotted in the building premises. Our team rushed to the spot and we started the search operation at around 1 pm. We did spot the leopard’s pugmarks and it is possible that the leopard is still hiding somewhere inside the building,” said Sawant. The forest department has blocked the area with a plywood sheet so that leopard does not have any other route to escape. A net with two hens inside it has been kept in the basement to attract the leopard.
A Forest Department official, requesting anonymity, added that it was a good thing that the incident took place on a school holiday.
At around 10.30 am, said the construction contractor requesting anonymity, he told his worker to go to the school building basement and fetch the cutter machine used to cut tiles. “My worker was shocked to see the leopard fast asleep. He came and reported the incident and I immediately rushed to the spot. I locked the basement door and informed the school
The school is located opposite Sardar Pratap Singh Park, which is adjacent to the forest. According to locals, incidents of leopards straying into the area are not new as the forest is just hardly 20 metres away. “This is not the first time that a leopard has been spotted. They have been spotted several times here, climbing walls of the park and entering the forest late at night,” said 18 year-old Amol Shinde, a resident of the area.