September 17, 2013 12:41:15 am
A pair of leopards on the prowl in Kolshet village of Thane district have kept forest officials and Sanjay Gandhi National (SGNP) park staff on their toes for the last two months as repeated attempts to capture them have failed.
Although no human casualties have been reported so far,the two leopards are said to have already preyed on 10-15 dogs from the area.
Leopards are known to roam within an area of 1100-1200 acres that encompasses Kolshet village,located near Sanjay Gandhi National Park,an Air Force and a naval base,a Hiranandani residential project and an old industrial unit shut down years ago.
Two teams,one of 17 officials and guards from the Thane forest department,and the other of eight guards from SGNP,including a veterinarian,have been searching for the two wild cats.
The leopards have been spotted numerous times at different locations,even near the Navy mess. In the Hiranandani residential enclave,they have even been captured on CCTV. Our night patrols too have seen them,but every time we set up cages,they end up elsewhere, said Sudhir Padhwai,assistant conservator of forests,Thane.
It is not known if the leopards have strayed from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park or have long been part of the Kolshet area.
Some say the leopards are from the National Park,but members of Koli community here say the two leopards have lived in this area for long, said Padhwai.
SGNP director Sunil Limaye said an awareness campaign had been undertaken to educate residents of the area on steps to be taken to avoid any dangerous encounter with the leopards.
We have asked the residents to keep their areas clean,well-lit and free of dogs as these make it easy for the leopards to prey on. We have also asked parents to never let their children walk around the area alone. These small efforts will keep them safe, said Limaye.
Padhwai said,The leopards have already preyed on 10-15 dogs from the area. We have been instructing locals to raise an immediate alarm or burst firecrackers in case there is a leopard nearby. The forest cover here is heavy and the area is too big,so it is easy for the leopards to escape and difficult for us to catch them.
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