Mumbai: Leopard found stretching in Goregaon gym

May 14, 2018, 07:11 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

An SRPF staffer spotted the big cat when he went to the gym on Sunday morning; officials said the leopard was rescued safely, and is likely to be released back in its natural habitat soon


Perhaps mistaking it for the 'Gym Corbett' park, a leopard entered a gymnasium in the SRPF camp adjacent to Aarey Milk Colony yesterday. Officials from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Thane Forest Department (territorial) took two hours to rescue the big cat on Sunday afternoon.

Leopard sightings are not uncommon in the area, as the camp shares its boundary with the forested patch of Aarey. But on Sunday morning, a staffer from the police camp got the shock of his life when he went to the gym and spotted the leopard stretched out there.

One of the officers from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) camp said, "Around 8.30 am, one of our colleagues had gone to the gym. When he opened the door, he saw a leopard sitting in the corner. He immediately shut the door and reported the sighting to the authorities."

Rescue volunteers point to the spot where the leopard was found in the gym at the SRPF camp in Goregaon
Rescue volunteers point to the spot where the leopard was found in the gym at the SRPF camp in Goregaon

Rescue efforts
As the news spread, a crowd gathered nearby, the SRPF soon had the mob under control. No one was allowed to go near the leopard's hiding spot. Around 9.30 am, Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, from the Thane Forest Department (Territorial), reached the spot along with the leopard rescue team. The SGNP veterinarian, Dr Shailesh Pethe, also arrived on the scene with his team and Range Forest Officer (RFO) Sanjay Waghmode, honorary wildlife warden of Thane, Pawan Sharma. Volunteers monitoring leopard activity in Aarey Milk Colony also helped the forest department to rescue the big cat.

No escape
Dr Shailesh Pethe inspected the area and observed that there was an opening through which the animal might escape. "We first made sure that the opening was closed with plywood. Around 11.15 am, I climbed up a ladder and darted the leopard through a small opening above the door," said Dr Pethe.

Dr Ramgaonkar said, "It was a very risky operation, but with proper coordination between us, the SGNP team, volunteers and the SRPF staff, we were able to tranquilise and rescue the leopard."

The leopard was immediately taken to the SGNP leopard rescue centre. "The animal is a fully grown male leopard, and is fit and healthy," added Dr Pethe. Sources said the animal would be released back into its natural habitat at the earliest.

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