Mumbai: Local residents of Goregaon, Dindoshi and Borivli areas have shared their concern with the increasing leopard sightings within the premises of several housing societies in these areas.
These areas are located within the close proximity of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Aarey forest and according to forest officials, more than 15 incidents of leopard spotting have taken place so far since August. Vijay Barabde, Range Forest Officer (RFO) of SGNP, said that these leopards mainly prey on street dogs.
“As per our preliminary research, it's safe to conclude that the leopards feed on these dogs as they are easy to kill and they don't target human beings as such,” Barabde told FPJ.
Earlier in August, a CCTV footage of a leopard loitering inside a Malad society became viral on social media. Back in May, a milkman spotted a tiger outside an ATM outside a housing society in Gokuldham. No casualty was reported in any of the incidents. Local residents said that leopards are being frequently spotted outside housing societies at Dindoshi and Sai Baba Colony in Goregaon East.
"We have been reaching out to these housing societies to conduct workshops. We are urging them to not panic and to keep the premises of the society well lit. We are urging people to not attack a leopard and if they spot one instead to make noise that will eventually drive them away," said Barabde.
Barabde also maintained that these sightings have become a regular occurrence in the western suburbs and Thane areas for past few years.
City-based environmentalist Stalin D, director of NGO Vanashakti, attributed the increase in sightings to the ongoing construction works inside the Aarey forest and SGNP.
"Leopards don't have restricted areas and they like to roam around freely. Now that largescale human interference is taking place inside they are losing their habitat and are compelled to move out of the forest area," Stalin told FPJ on Saturday.
Sonu Singh, a member of citizen's group 'Mumbaikars for SGNP', said that at present his group is conducting a survey to analyse the behavioral aspects of these leopards.
"We are trying to determine the reason behind these frequent sightings, the sex of the leopards and if it has any cubs," Singh told FPJ.
He said alongside the survey awareness campaigns are also being carried out by his group to ensure there is no man-animal conflict.
"Leopards don't harm human beings rather they are afraid of us and try to avoid us as much as they can, we are telling people to not spread panic and to keep the open spaces at their societies lightened up," Singh said.
Priya Misra, a local Goregaon resident who recently attended one of the workshops organised by the forest department for local residents said that all the sightings have been taken during the night and people living in nearby societies are scared with frequent sightings taking place.
"Many of us don't know what to do in these situations. In the workshops, we are being told to keep a torch with us always and to make sure adults are there whenever children are out in the open for playing," Misra told FPJ.
"A few weeks back a leopard was spotted in our adjacent building and last month another sighting happened at a nearby tower. The watchmen and guards have also been instructed to check spaces like parking lot and gardens frequently and keep a tap on the CCTV movements," she said.
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