Mumbai: Forest department to release Aarey leopard soon

Updated: Dec 26, 2016, 15:57 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav |

Days after trapping the leopard in Aarey without any man-animal conflict, the Forest department has said it will release the wild cat back in its natural habitat

The big cat is a sub-adult male and a micro chip has already been fitted in its body
The big cat is a sub-adult male and a micro chip has already been fitted in its body

Following a wave of criticism for trapping a leopard from Aarey Milk Colony without any provocation from the wild cat, the Forest Department has announced that it will soon release the animal back in its natural habitat.

Chief Conservator of Forest, Thane (Territorial), KP Singh confirmed: “The leopard that was trapped from Aarey Milk Colony will be released in its natural habitat at the earliest.”

There has not been a single incident of man-animal conflict in nearly three years, and after the leopard was trapped on Friday, there was strong backlash from the wildlife conservationist community. If anything, Aarey has been held up as an example for the entire world, demonstrating how leopards can co-exist alongside humans in perfect harmony.

An image of a leopard prowling near tribal settlements in Aarey recently won a highly acclaimed award from the Natural History Museum.

The recently made BBC documentary, Planet Earth II also covered this remarkable co-existence.

Sources from SGNP told this newspaper that the big cat, trapped from Mataipada in Aarey, is a sub-adult male and a micro chip has already been fitted in its body. “The leopard is completely healthy and is fit for release,” said an official.

Conservationists pointed out that the leopard trapping was in violation of the guidelines prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), according to which the permission to trap a leopard can only be given by the PCCF-Nagpur office, and only when there is no there option but to trap the animal.

Activists added that guidelines would continue to be violated unless the leopard is released in its home range, as translocating it can lead to future man-animal conflict.

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