Wild cats are usually spotted near tribal hamlets located in Kashimira which borders the outskirts of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
However, a female leopard aged around three years was trapped in the cage set up by villagers in the Paalkhadi area of Uttan near Bhayandar late on Thursday night. Notably, Palkhadi is nearly 12 kilometres away from the forest area.
Villagers who trapped leopard likely to face criminal charges
However, those responsible for setting up the cage and trapping the leopard are now liable to face criminal charges for violating the wildlife law, officials said. “After getting information about the incident, our team immediately reached the spot and safely shifted the female leopard to the rescue unit at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP). A team of veterinary doctors will examine the leopard, following which it will be released in the jungles. The act of setting up cages to capture wild cats is illegal and appropriate action will be taken against those responsible. After any such spotting, people should inform the forest department so that adequate measures are taken in a systematic manner.” said Range Forest Officer (RFO) of Mumbai- Rakesh Bhoir.
Villagers installed cage to trap animal
After getting information that a leopard had been wandering in the area, villagers in order to ensure their safety had installed the cage with a rooster inside as bait. A week later the leopard walked into the trap and was captured late on Thursday night. The leopard was shifted to SGNP at around 10:30 am on Friday.
However, such captures which can often injure the animal are termed illegal and invites action under the relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (WLPA) for the capture of schedule I species, such as leopards.
The forest department officials claimed that they were regularly conducting camps to spread awareness among the inhabitants about the dos and don’ts in case of sightings in order to reduce man-animal conflicts.
It may be recalled that the forest department captured a male leopard near a sprawling slum cluster in Bhayandar in February-2022 using a systematic method with the help of safe cages, trap cameras and tranquilizers.
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