More mischief is afoot in Aarey Colony’s forest. Two weeks since beloved leopard Chandni fell prey to poachers, a group of volunteers setting up camera traps to study the movement of leopards has recovered a 5- to 8-ft-long wire inside Aarey’s forest patch.
The team of volunteers with the wire spotted inside the forest in Aarey Colony
Around 1.30 am on Sunday, the team — comprising Kaushal Dubey, Sudam Navle, Hitendra Pachkale, Umesh, Prabhu Swami, Imran Uda and Satish Lot — which has been helping the Thane forest department conduct leopard tracking exercises, was on its usual weekly patrol when it spotted the wire.
Dubey said the local police, the Thane forest department and the volunteers had stepped up vigilance since Chandni’s carcass was found in a snare on March 19.
“We were patrolling the area between the hill between New Zealand Hostel and Unit-15 when we found the wire lying near a tree. We took it with us and alerted Thane Chief Conservator of Forests KP Singh about it.”
Alarmed by the find, a team of officials from the forest department patrolled the area near the VIP guesthouse extensively — on foot and on vehicles — for around two hours the same night.
The Aarey police have been alerted, too. “We asked the police to keep a vigil on people who enter the forest during the day and at night, and pick up for questioning anyone found carrying wires,” said an official from the forest department who was part of Sunday’s patrol team.
It is unclear if the wire was to be used to set up a trap. Singh said all hands are on the deck. “Our patrol staff and the beat guard, along with senior officials, have also been asked stay vigilant. I will also conduct surprise visits to the area to monitor the staff’s work.”
The Thane forest department plans to award a letter of appreciation to the volunteers for their timely alert and efforts in protecting wildlife.
The investigation into Chandni’s poaching and the search for her missing cub is still on.