Marol resident Suresh Shinde got the shock of his life on April 1, 2019 when he spotted a leopard resting on a car in the parking lot of his building in Andheri. The big cat, too, scared of the human presence, fled the spot by jumping over a wall and took refuge in the ground floor passage of Woodland Crest building. However, thankfully the leopard was successfully rescued by the forest department officials after a three-hour-long challenging operation
An adult leopard was spotted by security personnel at the basement of Korum Mall in Thane early on the morning of February 20, 2019 at around 5.30 am. The leopard's movement was caught on the CCTV camera installed towards the exit gate of the parking area. The leopard then moved to nearby hotel near the busy Cadbury junction in Thane where the big cat was tranquilised at the basement by forest officials at around 11.30 am
In July 2018, after a series of thefts at Aarey Milk Colony, a local resident installed CCTV cameras to capture burglars in the act. However, he was shocked when the camera caught a completely different sort of cat. When stray dogs started barking, the resident Anand Kanan thought it was a thief, but instead saw the big cat prowling in the lanes near their homes. Without wasting any time, he immediately informed his neighbours about the animal's presence and warned them to be more vigilant while stepping out of the house. Santosh Kank, range forest officer, also ensured that residents were made aware of the do's and dont's in case they encounter a leopard.
In June 2018, a leopard was rescued in the wee hours from an abandoned factory in Marol, where it had been staying for a few days. The factory shares a boundary wall with the Halimabai Chawl, where the animal was first spotted by a resident. The rescuers launched a massive secret operation to capture the big cat, ensuring that the locals never got wind of what was happening.
In March 2018, the densely populated town of Ulhasnagar witnessed an extremely difficult rescue operation of a leopard, which was spotted roaming in the premises of a bungalow at the Bhatia compound. After the news and pictures of the big cat went viral on social media, hundreds of people gathered at the spot to catch a glimpse of it. After being informed by a resident, the Leopard Rescue Team of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) with the help of the Thane Forest Department safely rescued the big cat and took it to the SGNP rescue centre for a medical examination. As per the test results, the animal was fit to be released in the wild.
Leopard sightings are not uncommon in SRPF camp as it shares its boundary with the forested patch of Aarey Milk Colony. But in May 2018, 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. 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. It was a very risky operation, but the leopard was tranquilised and rescued.
In January 2018, when a leopard paid a visit to actress Hema Malini's colony in Goregaon East, it nearly turned into the forest department's worst nightmare. While the leopard caused no harm or damage, CCTV footage showed an overzealous watchman running after the big cat with a lathi in hand – a big no-no in cases of leopard sightings. Earlier, in 2011, a leopard showed up at Hema's bungalow but escaped into the nearby jungle before the forest department arrived on the scene.
An adult leopard got entangled in a wire snare at Dahanu in January 2018 but lived to tell the tale, thanks to forest officials and volunteers who saved the big cat after a two-hour rescue operation. The leopard was helpless as it tried to escape the wire. Every time it tried to get out, it tugged at the sharp wire, increasing the risk of injury. In order to minimise the risk, the rescuers decided to use a cage to capture the animal. The cage was set up near the leopard, and the teams used available resources like ropes and nets to coax the leopard into the trap cage. After the animal entered the cage, it was shut and no tranquilisers were used. The leopard was immediately taken to the treatment and transit centre at the Wildlife Conservation And Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA).
In January 2018, a leopard, which was believed to have lost its way, reached Nane Pada in Mulund East, which is around three to four kilometers away from the forested patch. It injured five people. It was only the presence of the mind shown by the forest department's leopard rescue team and the volunteers that helped prevent further conflict in the high human density area. A team was coordinating with the police in crowd management and another team did a quick survey of the area to learn the entry and exit points. The leopard was tranquilised and taken to SGNP
It was a day of learning for a leopard that went to school in Andheri East on December 2017. It took nearly 12 hours for the Thane Forest Department (Territorial) to rescue the animal after it entered the Junior Crafting nursery school at Sher-E-Punjab early in the morning. The owner of the kindergarten also confirmed the news to the police after watching CCTV footage of the leopard. The news spread quickly, and soon, more than 300 people gathered outside the school. The leopard was then rescued and sent to the wild.
On September 14, 2017, a three-year-old suspected male leopard that is believed to be behind the Aarey attack of 2 women earlier, was trapped at Film City. While the suspected male leopard that killed one and injured 4 people was finally trapped by the Territorial Wing of the Thane forest department with the help of a team of researchers and volunteers, the authorities decided to continue the camera trapping exercise in the area for another two to three months in order to see which new individual leopard takes over the territory or the space that has got vacated after the over three years old leopard was trapped.
Living just a stone's throw from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), the locals are used to sightings of the spotted cat. But even they were surprised to see the CCTV footage of a leopard boldly hunting a stray dog very close to a building, even though the area was brightly lit. The incident was recorded at 4.04 am on September 5, 2017, when the leopard walked into the well-lit street outside the building. It pounced on a sleeping dog and then paused for a bit in the middle of the street before carrying the carcass away, casual as you please.
In August 2017, a full-grown leopard was spotted keeping an eye on the residents of the area from its perch in the same spot for two-three days. Powerful floodlights installed in the housing complex were no deterrent for the determined wildcat. Following sightings of the leopard, the Mumbaikars for SGNP, an initiative of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, conducted awareness programmes in the area, where residents from the adjoining housing societies were reminded about the Dos and Don'ts and precautions that needed to be taken..
It was a father vs a big cat as a four-year-old's life hung in balance. And the dad managed to win this battle. In May 2017, an evening walk at Royal Palms in Aarey colony turned into a crisis, when a leopard hiding in the bushes lunged for the toddler, who was just a few feet behind his father. The man immediately ran to the nearby wall where the animal had dragged his son, and as the spotted cat tried to jump over with its prey, he snatched his boy. The leopard, unwilling to let him go, finally did after two passers-by ran in to help, creating a racket to scare the animal.
After a 2-year-old boy was killed by a leopard in broad daylight in Film City in July 2017, the forest department suspected that the same animal is behind all incidents that took place earlier in that vicinity. Each of the leopard attacks between April to July 2017 had one thing in common – the victims were all children. A two-year-old son of a staffer at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), was snatched by a leopard as the family was walking through a forested patch in Film City, Goregaon. A few hours after the attack, a leopard was spotted just 300 metres from the spot, sitting on the boundary wall of Film City. The forest department then checked the footage from the camera traps to find out which leopards frequent the area.
A leopard was caught on camera paying a surprise visit to the girls' hostel of Bombay Veterinary College (BVC) in Goregaon, in the wee hours in June 2017. But instead of a check-up, the leopard was there in search of fast food — in this case, a stray dog. The night watchman, who was there at the time, could hardly believe his eyes as the big cat chased the dog right down the stairs of the hostel in the BVC campus, before pouncing for the kill.
In January 2017, at around 2 am, the CCTV cameras of Rosewood housing society near Vasant Garden in Mulund, captured a leopard moving about in the car parking area next to it. The CCTV had captured a car coming into the path of the leopard crossing the parking lot. The leopard was seen walking around comfortably, probably in search of livestock such as dogs, macaques, or rodents.
In March 2017, a mother and daughter were caught by surprise when a leopard fell through the roof of their home at Retibunder, near Thane-Ghodbunder Road. But the big cat turned out to be more of a scaredy-cat — even before the humans could digest the fact that there was a leopard in their house, the animal raced through the open door. The animal may not have stayed for dinner, but it managed to grab a puppy for a takeaway meal on its way out.
A leopard was spotted in IIT-Powai on November 8, 2016 and was captured on a CCTV installed outside a laboratory. Range Forest Officer of Mumbai also conducted night patrolling in the area and had held sessions to create awareness among the students about the dos and don’ts when they spot a leopard, in order to avoid man-animal conflicts.
After 50-odd years of no leopard sighting in Borichapada tribal hamlet of Palghar district, this big cat was not only seen in the village but it also attacked two tribals. The incident happened in March 2016. Sources said that when animals are witnessed near human colonies, local politicians build pressure on the forest department to nab and free these animals in different areas. Moreover, scientists and biologists have been opposing leopard translocation as it gives way to more human-animal conflict. mid-day, on its visit to the village, saw no forest cover or cropland at the site of the attack that is required for the animal to hide during the day.
In 2015, the CCTV installed at Abhinav Nagar in Borivli East, situated on the periphery of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), captured a rare visit — that of a leopard. In the footage, a leopard was seen running around, after which the animal took a majestic leap over a compound wall into a residential plot. The residents were of the opinion that stray dogs attracted leopards to the area.
mid-day journalist Ranjeet Jadhav also had a very exhilarating moment as he captured the rare sight of a leopard feasting on its kill at Aarey Milk Colony.
Wild animal straying into human habitats in metropolitan cities is not a rare phenomenon and Mumbai is no stranger to this as well. Over the years, there have been various instances when leopards have strayed into the city of Mumbai from nearby forests, mainly in search of prey. We showcase a few incidents when leopards have been spotted in human habitats in Mumbai
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