Mumbai: Viral SEEPZ leopard walked from Sanjay Gandhi National Park

Updated: 11 December, 2019 11:49 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Forest department officials say the leopard spotted in SEEPZ this week was rescued from Marol in April and released in national park

A photograph showing the same leopard in Marol on December 9
A photograph showing the same leopard in Marol on December 9

The mystery of the leopard spotted in SEEPZ on December 9 has finally been solved as the big cat was found from Aarey. It had been rescued after entering Woodland Crest in Marol in April this year and released in SGNP.

The big cat, reinforcing the homing tendency of the species, however, had found its way back into Aarey. The fact was ascertained when the forest department matched the rosette patterns of the SEEPZ leopard with those in the Aarey database.

Officials from Thane Forest Department (FD) (Territorial) told mid-day that the rosette patterns of the leopard spotted in SEEPZ matched with those in the data bank of the leopards from Aarey and it was figured that this was Leopard Cub Aarey (LCA11).

Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, Deputy Conservator of Forest from Thane FD (Territorial) said, "The pattern was matched with the help of camera trapping in Aarey. Big cats are territorial and there have been many success stories which have proven that these cats have a strong homing instinct."

A leopard had entered the ground floor of Woodland Crest building in April after which it was rescued by the forest department in a three-hour-long operation. The leopard was taken to SGNP for a medical examination and released. It was also spotted in camera traps installed in Film City by biologist Nikit Surve's team which has been carrying out a camera trapping exercise in the area to study leopard movement. The leopard was also spotted carrying a mouse in its mouth, giving information about its diet pattern. "It also proves how important it is to carry out regular camera trapping exercises throughout the year as it generates important data," forest officials told mid-day. "Leopards are similar to the cats that we have in our homes and they can find their way back home. Camera traps that capture the images of leopards are very helpful as they help identify individual leopards based on the rosette patterns and aid understanding the big cats," leopard expert and biologist Dr Vidya Athreya said.

How do they cross JVLR?

The FD has already installed camera traps in the building at Seepz where the leopard was spotted and has been patrolling the area. Local residents have been briefed about the Dos and Don'ts in case of leopard spotting. But the question haunting the FD and researchers is how do the leopards cross the busy JVLR (Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road). They are examining if there are any alternative routes that these cats might be using. Four instances of leopards having crossed JVLR have been reported in the recent past.

Earlier incidents

December 2017 A young leopard was rescued from a kindergarten classroom by forest department at Sher-e-Punjab area, Andheri East.
November 2016 The Forest Department had trapped a leopard from an under-construction building in Powai's Hiranandani area.
December 2012 A leopard was rescued by the Forest Department from ONGC Colony at Poonam Nagar in Jogeshwari East adjacent to JVLR, near Aarey

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First Published: 11 December, 2019 07:00 IST

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