Aarey Colony leopard attack: 'Forest officials have gone soft on patrolling'
Locals of Khadak Pada allege that forest officials have almost stopped standing guard at the spots where traps have been set and don't even move the cages themselves, asking the residents to do so
After the death of four-year-old Hiya Mhase after a leopard mauled her, and the close shave that another 11-year-old encountered in Khadak Pada at Aarey Milk Colony, authorities from the Thane Forest Department had swung into action and had set two traps to capture the leopard. But, it seems that officials have reverted to their old ways, as locals allege that the guards aren’t present at the trap sites and the patrolling has reduced.
Following the attack on October 2, in which Hiya died, officials from the Thane Forest Department (TFD) had set two traps, one at the spot where the leopard killed the small child, and the other where the boy was attacked. However, locals allege that the TFD team has reduced patrolling and is not even present at the sites where the cages have been set up. They complain that the TFD team comes only once a day -- early morning -- and then go away.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Vishnu Kharve, a resident of Khadak Pada said, “On the very first day of the attack, the team was present near our pada the entire night, but on the second night, they reduced patrolling. The worst part is that they don’t even help us in putting bait inside the cage. Technically, it is the job of the TFD team to change the location of the cages, but the villagers do so.”
He added that on Saturday, the TFD team had come to the spot, but instead of changing the location themselves, they made locals change the spot.
A wildlife expert requesting anonymity said, “It is the duty of the authorities to stay at the location at night, because if the leopard is trapped, then there are chances that the animal might be harmed by angry residents. So, officials should continuously patrol the area.”
Chief Conservator of Forest, Thane, K P Singh said, “I would like to say that our team is patrolling the area where the attacks have taken place at regular intervals. But, if locals are alleging that proper patrolling is not taking place, then I will look into the matter and appropriate measures will be taken.”