Did rescue team manhandle leopard hit by vehicle?

Updated: Jan 30, 2018, 10:56 IST | A Correspondent | Mumbai

Cause of spotted cat's death to be ascertained after a post-mortem at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park today

The rescue team trapped the animal after it attacked a forest official
The rescue team trapped the animal after it attacked a forest official

Did the leopard that met with an accident on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway near Navsari on Monday die because of its injuries or due to the way the rescue team handled it? A post-mortem to be conducted today at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will reveal the answer. However, even as the reason behind the animal's death remains unclear, sources from the forest department told this newspaper that the need of the hour was to have trained leopard rescue teams in all districts of the state, so that the animals could be rescued safely and properly.

Sudden attack
Around 9 am on Monday, an unidentified vehicle hit the leopard near Uplat village in Palghar district. On being informed, a team of officials of the Dahanu forest department along with Dhaval Kansara, honorary wildlife warden of Palghar district, reached the spot and started inspecting the area. They were told that the leopard was hiding in one of the bushes in a nearby field.

Speaking to mid-day, Kansara said, "The range forest officer (RFO) from Bordi had informed us about the accident. While we were inspecting the spot, the leopard appeared from behind the bushes all of a sudden and attacked the RFO. It also injured four other officials. We had to trap the animal, or else it would have injured more people." Sources said that post the rescue operation, the leopard was rushed to SGNP, where it was declared dead on arrival.

Self-defence
When contacted, Nanasaheb Ladkat, deputy conservator of forests, Dahanu, said they were in the process of forming a dedicated team. "It's very unfortunate that the leopard died, but we tried to save it. It was already injured due to the road accident. When we reached the spot, the leopard suddenly rushed out from behind the bushes and attacked a forest department official. In order to prevent further injuries, the team had to catch it and cage it."

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