The leopard caught on Friday is not the one behind the recent attacks and will be released in the wild, the forest department stated.
An adult female leopard was trapped early Friday morning in a cage set up by the state forest department in Aarey Milk Colony. Traps had been set up after a spate of leopard attacks in the city since August 31.
However, the leopard caught on Friday is not the one behind the attacks and will be released in the wild, the forest department stated. This is the second leopardess that the forest department had caught, while the leopardess behind the attacks has remained elusive.
Sunil Limaye, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said, “On Friday morning, a female leopard got trapped in one of the trap cages at Aarey Milk Colony. The rosette pattern of the trapped animal was matched with the camera trap picture of the suspected leopard that we have. The animal that was trapped is not the suspected animal and we are releasing her in the natural habitat. The efforts to trap the suspected leopard will continue.”
The forest department put five cage traps and 19 camera traps in the area earlier this month. The suspected leopard has been recorded near the cage trap.
Since August 31, eight people in Aarey Colony, including a 68-year-old woman and a four-year-old child, sustained injuries after they were attacked by a leopard. A sub-adult leopard aged between one-and-a-half and two years was captured in the early hours of October 1. When the wildlife experts matched the trapped animal’s rosette pattern— leopard’s spots and each animal has a different pattern — with the picture of the attacker animal, the researchers concluded that the trapped leopard is not the attacker.
The state forest department has also received permission to tranquilise the leopard responsible for the attacks. Through increased camera traps, the forest department and volunteers are also monitoring the daytime movement of the leopard. However, as Aarey Milk Colony has several human settlements and given the risk of a leopard entering households by the time it gets sedated, the department is giving preference to trapping the animal rather than tranquillisation.
Once the leopard is trapped, the forest department and experts will conduct an examination, after which a committee will decide on how and where to release the animal.
Following the attacks, Mumbaikars for SGNP’, an initiative by the forest department and citizens of Mumbai that deals with human and leopard interaction in the SGNP landscape, is conducting awareness sessions in Aarey Milk Colony. The forest department is also making announcements in the evening, warning people to not go into densely wooded areas and to travel in groups.
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