Scared leopard stars in midnight drama at tribal settlement in Thane
Gajanan Loharkar, a resident of Warli Pada, Thane, will never forget the night of May 23. A leopard entered his house by mistake to hide after fellow villagers chased him away. Warli Pada is a tribal settlement adjacent to the Yeoor Range of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Thane.
The rescue officials used a net to cordon off the area where the leopard was hiding. Pics/ Pradeep Dhivar
“The leopard was chasing a hen and had been seen in the locality twice before the incident. At around 8.50 pm, while attempting to get lucky the third time at catching the hen, it came to the locality again but this time only to get driven away by other villagers. In the process, it panicked and entered Loharkar’s house,” said a resident of the village.
After the news of the leopard spread in the village like wild fire, more than 500 people gathered in the area
“Loharkar’s son came outside the house sensing that something was wrong. One of the villagers then carried Loharkar, who was asleep. We immediately locked the door from outside and informed the police and Thane forest department. The rescue operation started at around 10.30 pm,” added the resident.
Gajanan Loharkar was asleep when the leopard entered his house in Warli Pada
A wildlife expert monitoring the rescue operation said that the crowd that gathered there added to their difficulties since it made the leopard nervous and they didn’t want any loss of human life. Tranquilising the animal was their priority.
“We saw from an opening above the door that the leopard was sitting beneath the bed and it would be really difficult to tranquilise it. What concerned us more was the fact that the animal was getting aggressive because of the noise the crowd was making,” said Sanjay Pagare, a rescue team member.
An eyewitness told sunday mid-day that the first thing forest department officials did was close the opening so that the leopard couldn’t escape. Sensing that the animal was getting more aggressive by the minute, the authorities devised a strategy.
“At around 1.30 am, we evacuated the houses behind the room in which the leopard was sitting. We cordoned off the area where the leopard was sitting using a net and then made an opening in the wall of the house after which the animal immediately ran into the forest that was less than 50 metres away,” said SGNP Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF), Santosh Saste.