Villagers of Tarapur, Ghivli, Savrai, Panchmarg and surrounding areas in Palghar district said panic has spread among residents after one of them spotted a leopardess and her two cubs in his field on Sunday morning.
“I immediately ran to safety and was about to climb a nearby tree when it struck me that even leopards can climb. So I picked up a stone and kept banging it against the steel pot I was carrying to alert others about the presence of the wild animal in my field. Later, I informed the sarpanch of Tarapur gram panchayat, who assured me of taking up the matter with the forest department,” said a farmer.
Nanasaheb Ladkat, deputy conservator of forests (Dahanu range) confirmed the presence of leopards in the area.
“We have collected Plaster of Paris samples of the pugmarks. Looks like a female and her two cubs have strayed near the human settlement. Although the nearby by forest patch is full of wild game, we have asked the villagers to stay alert and always venture out in a group. As long as the animal does not attack or trouble people, we cannot trap it. However, range forest office (Boisar) is tracking their movement. Leopards are shy animals and will not attack humans unless provoked,” said Ladkat.
The Tarapur gram panchayat also wrote to the tehsildar and sought appropriate action in the matter.