Forest officials trap male leopard in Mumbai’s Aarey forest after toddler death; hunt on for its sibling

Forty-eight hours after a leopard claimed the life of a toddler inside Mumbai’s Aarey forest, known as the green lung of the city, a three-year-old male leopard was trapped by forest officials on Wednesday early morning.

Forest officials said that out of the two leopards, identified as C-55 and C-56, suspected for the recent man-animal conflicts from inside the unit-15 of the forest area, one has been trapped.

“We have been able to trap the male leopard identified as C-55 around 6 am. The leopard was trapped in one of the trap cages set up in unit-15. The leopard is in healthy condition and is being transferred to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) rescue center where it will be kept under observation by veterinarians,” G Mallikarjun, director of SGNP and chief conservator of forests told The Indian Express.

However, the forest officials are monitoring the movements of the other leopard C-56 and the procedure of tracking the animal is on.

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“Both C-55 and C-56 are siblings and are suspected for the recent attacks. However, it is yet to be ascertained which of the two leopards had attacked the toddler,” said Mallikarjun.

After the leopard attack incident on Monday, the forest officials set up one cage trap by covering it with bushes and shrubs within 200 metres from the spot of the incident. However, the big cat got trapped in another cage trap set up on Tuesday in another part of the forest.

Mallikarjun added that officials have installed more than 30 camera traps in and around the unit-15 colony and other spots in the Aarey forest, from where leopards were spotted recently.

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It is learned that they have narrowed down the roaming radius of the suspected leopards based on recent sightings and statements from the local tribal people and are keeping continuous surveillance to ensure that the other leopard is also caught.

“The officials are working closely with the tribal people and other nature volunteers. We are carrying out field visits in shifts and reaching out to the hamlets to ensure they don’t keep the doors and windows open and allow their children to go out without adult supervision,” said Wasim Athania, member of the Aarey Camera Trapping Team and a local resident.

On Monday, a 16-month-old toddler, Eitikha Lot, was attacked by a leopard in the courtyard of her house at unit-15 colony inside Aarey Forest around 5.45 am. The girl with grievous injuries was rescued after an hour inside the forest area by the local neighbours. She was rushed to Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri where she was declared dead.