A leopard was spotted in a park at Manpada in Thane Wednesday morning. As alarmed residents and forest officials reached the spot, the leopard, apparently scared by the number of people gathered at the park, fled to the Yeoor hills, from where it likely came. Angry residents demanded that a patrol team be stationed at the park in case the animal returns.
Arjun Sakat (45) was walking in the park when he heard people shouting that there was a leopard in the park. “I go to the park for morning walk. I was walking when some people started shouting that there is a leopard in the park. Soon afterwards, I saw it hiding behind the bushes near the compound wall,” said Sakat, a businessman.
“The animal was spotted at 7 am and an alarm was raised. We reached the spot by 7.15 am and started closing off the gates and evacuating the park. Soon, the animal made its way out of the park, probably the same way it had come in,” said Range Forest officer Rajendra Pawar. He added, “It jumped over the wall and vanished in the jungle surrounding the park.”
While this is the second instance of a big cat entering a residential area, forest officials said the leopard may have lost its way in the dark. “The entire area seems like a part of the jungle. When people started streaming in, the animal tried to hide and that’s when he was spotted,” said Pawar.
But residents of Manpada are demanding that a patrol team remain in the area in case the big cat returns. “That park is frequented by children and elderly persons. What if the leopard had attacked someone? No one can actually predict a wild animal’s actions,” said Sunita Mahajan, a resident of a society near the park in Manpada.
“It will likely not return. We are going to hold awareness camps in the region and in nearby areas to ensure that people know what to do if they come face to face with a big cat,” said Pawar.
In February, a leopard had entered a mall in Thane, around 15 km from the park. It had entered a residential complex before being rescued and evacuated by forest officials.