Vijay Singh, Times News Network, July 30 2018
The at Rahul Nagar, Mulund (West), is being cited by experts as a copybook case on ‘how to invite leopards for dinner’.
“Firstly, the (shantytown is an encroachment) inside the boundary of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. . Then, the victim had tied his dog outside his front door, a dangerous thing to do since dogs form a prey base of leopards,” said wildlife activist Pawan Sharma of Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW).
Sharma said slums and human habitats in, on or just outside the forest’s fringes lead to human-animal conflicts as leopards come out in the night to hunt for dogs and livestock. “The state government must hold a multiple-agency meeting, which should include the forest department and municipality to ensure that peaceful coexistence can be maintained to avoid leopard attacks,” he said. “Wild predators cannot be blamed for trying to find their food inside the forest. But humans must learn to take a step or two back.”
Veteran activist Debi Goenka of Conservation Action Trust (CAT) said, “Why can’t our political leaders simply follow court orders to get rid of illegal hutments and houses from inside the national park?”
Deputy conservator of forests (Thane territorial) Jitendra Ramgaonkar said, “Since April 2017, there have been seven human-animal conflict cases. Our range officials consistently visit areas close to the forest to spread awareness on how to reduce leopard attacks.”
Wildlife warden Sunish Subramanian said, “Schoolchildren must always go out in groups in the morning, accompanied by adults.”