The state Forest department captured four leopards from Nashik farmlands last week, taking the total number of the wild animals in captivity to 11, since July 2.
Following a surge in man-animal conflict, the department had started capturing leopards from the area. A total of five deaths and as many serious injuries have been reported from the suspected leopard attacks since December 2019 in a 12-km stretch along Darna river in Nashik. Among the victims are two children.
According to a report from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, an adult male leopard was responsible for attacks. The report was based on swab samples of four of the five victims. The state Forest department is yet to ascertain if any of the captured leopards, which include cubs, are responsible for the attacks.
Vivek Bhadane, range forest officer (RFO), Nashik, said, “Capturing these big cats is not a solution. A release plan has been submitted and unsuspected leopards will be released in the wild.” Four of the 11 leopards trapped so far were sent to Sanjay Gandhi National Park’s rescue centre in Mumbai. The SGNP rescue centre currently has 18 leopards. However, as the rescue centre’s capacity is full, the four recently captured leopards have been kept in the forest nursery in Nashik.
Meanwhile, with an aim to educate villagers on how to co-exist with leopards, the Forest department will soon launch a year-long programme, named ‘living with leopards’. A similar programme was implemented in Junnar, Akola and Mumbai.
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