The half-eaten corpse of a woman in her late twenties was found in the forest area in Bhandup suburb on Sunday taking the toll of people killed in leopard attacks in 2012 to 7.
Lalita Chauhan who was killed in the attack was missing from last one week when she had stepped out of the house early morning to answer nature’s call.
Speaking to MiD DAY, a police official from Powai police station said, “The reason behind the exact death of the woman is still not confirmed and we are awaiting the post-mortem report to ascertain the exact cause of death. Even though the body was half eaten we cannot directly blame the leopard for the attack and so we will only comment about the reason of the death after we see the post-mortem reports.”
Lalita Chauhan (27), a resident of Hanuman Nagar in Bhandup, had come to Mumbai two months back. She had left her house early morning to answer nature’s call 11 days back but had gone missing.
Her family members along with some neighbours had even undertaken a search operation to locate her but had been unable to trace her. Her husband even registered a missing person’s complaint at the Powai police station.
On Sunday evening, a local staying in the Hanuman Nagar area spotted the body in the forest after which he immediately informed the police officials.
Locals suspect that the woman could have been killed by the same leopard, which had killed a watchman at the water purification plant in Bhandup recently. However Wildlife Experts rubbish the claims made by the locals.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Environmentalist and Leopard Expert Krishna Tiwari
said, “Even though the people staying in the area must be saying that the woman was killed by the same leopard, I feel that it is not right to blame the animal. Unless the post mortem reports are out we cannot jump to the conclusion that the leopard has only killed the women. The only way to avoid any man-animal conflict incidents is by creating awareness. People staying in the areas close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park or in the adjacent areas should make it a point that they don’t visit the forest after 7 pm till dawn. If at all they go to answer nature’s call they should carry a torch along with then and should ask someone to accompany them.”
It should also be noted that the woman would have been crouching and the leopard could have mistaken her for a small prey and attacked.
In the last six months, six people have died in leopard attacks at various places in and around SGNP.