A politico has provided a point-blank answer to the man-animal conflict the city finds itself witnessing in its forested areas — shoot the animal dead.
Local Shiv Sena MLA Ravindra Waikar has demanded that leopards that maul humans either be trapped or shot dead. He has also told the Thane forest department that if any more attacks happen, he’d lead an agitation since locals are simmering at the spate of leopard attacks, some leading to deaths, in and around the Aarey Milk Colony area.
The demand came during a meeting between Thane forest department, Aarey colony officials and Waikar on Tuesday. “I would like to request the forest department that they should immediately trap the leopard or shoot it down, as it is attacking people. After this, if any attack takes place, we will hold a massive protest. The locals are furious and the FD should solve the problem at the earliest,” Waikar said.
A senior forest official from Thane said, “We have already set traps at various places in Aarey milk colony to catch the leopard. But we can’t say for sure when the animal will be trapped. We are trying our best and we request the locals to cooperate with us.” He added, “I would just like to add that shooting the leopard is not a solution.”
The issue of cattle carcasses dumped at Aarey milk colony attracting leopards, reported earlier by this paper, was also discussed in the meeting and Aarey authorities promised strict action against the malefactors.
Other problems brought up at the meet were non-functional streetlights, inadequate water supply, garbage dumping and lack of public toilets.
Waikar claimed that the issue of BEST buses to ferry children from BMC schools to the padas would be solved, so students would not have to walk back home through the forests.
Thane forest officials have handed over compensation cheques to the family of those deceased or injured by leopard assaults.
Big cat attacks
The surge in the number of leopard attacks at Aarey Milk Colony and Borivli national park areas is frightening to say the least, with many casualties reported in the past few months. Since January this year, at least seven people have been attacked in Mumbai, mostly in the forested area.
>> October 19: Seven-year-old Prakash Salunkhe is on his way home from school when he is attacked by a leopard that has strayed from the park. Prakash stayed with his parents at the Aarey Colony on the borders of the park.
>> October 1: Four-year-old Hiya Mhase is mauled to death in Khadakpada, on the peripheries of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. The same day, Sunil Rajesh Bhor, an 11-year-old Std IV student, survives a violent attack.
>> September 5: A full-grown big cat attacks 29-year-old Krishna, a tempo driver who transports milk from a cowshed to a milk centre, after he alights from his vehicle
>>September 1: Guddu Kevat (28), a plumber who is a resident of Andheri (East), goes to Unit no 15 at the milk colony for an evening walk with his friends, when the animal charges at him
>> August 20: Eighteen-year-old Vaibhav Tiwari goes to pick up his mother from Durga Pada in Aarey Milk Colony, when a leopard pounces on him from the bushes