By Sunish Subramanian

© Photo Courtesy : Mukesh Trivedi, Sunish Subramanian Kunju, Sameer Shaikh
© Photo Courtesy : Mukesh Trivedi, Sunish Subramanian Kunju, Sameer Shaikh

On Friday May 29, 2014 Plant & Animals Welfare Society – Mumbai (PAWS-Mumbai) Helpline received many calls from alert citizens about a leopard being sighted on the mountain behind Deloitte building and which is easily seen from Supreme Business Park at Hiranandani, Powai. We immediately informed Chief Conservator of Forests, Thane Mr. K. P. Singh and Range Forest Officer, Mumbai Mr. Anil Toradmal and as per the feedback from them, we have reported the same to Forest Control Room Nos. 022 25445459 / 25442119 too. On Saturday May 30, 2014 Forest Staff visited the spot at evening, wherein the locals present there confirmed the presence of leopard in the green cover area on the hill. As per our information, the hill has a small water body were this Big Cat comes and drinks water regularly and there is a fix place on a tree branch were it rests in the evening. The area where this big cat is regularly spotted is a small green cover which is untouched till now and the surrounded area is fully developed. As it is the only water in the area, such animals visit it for quenching their thirst during summer and also there is easy availability of stray animals for food. As this Big Cat Leopards are a highly adaptable species it lives in and around many human dominated and agricultural areas.

PAWS-Mumbai urges citizen should take some preventive steps such that vicious animals should not be provoked nor should be children allowed to roam in such isolated areas adjacent to forest. They should not attempt to scare the leopard away by making loud noises or bursting fire crackers. Residents should not crowd around the leopard spotting area and nor try to corner it. They should not try to go near it to click photographs or take pets for a stroll in such areas. Security guards of colony or housing society should carry torch at night and try to be in 2- 3 in groups and swatch on all the lights. Vicinity should be garbage free. If we not follow this simple steps they only frightens the animal and as a result animal will be panic, due to which animal and human both will be in danger.

As national parks are the only place have natural habitats and which is need to be protected legally. The permanent solution for this problem is that the law-enforcing authorities should not tolerate encroachments on the forest area by hutments nor permit construction of buildings near it. Forest department should develop artificial water bodies inside forest / national parks before summer season arrive which can be maintained or adopted by NGO. This is not the solution. Every authority has to be intolerant of any development that creates stress upon the habitat of flora and fauna of forest land and also should create mass awareness about the need to live alone all living beings in the forest to prevent any more man-animal conflict. As per the recent guideline “sighting of a leopard doesn’t means it should be trapped, so department should create awareness”.

From where this Leopard may have come? The nearest natural habitat for Leopard is Sanjay Gandhi National Park.