Poor Lighting Blamed for Human-leopard Conflict

Forest department has blamed poor lighting and lack of toilets for increasing chances of man-leopard conflict.After a recent incident where a three-year-old miraculously escaped from falling prey to a leopard at a tribal hamlet inside Aarey colony, the forest department has blamed poor lighting and lack of toilets for increasing chances of man-leopard conflict. The department will also write to BMC and the dairy department as Aarey Colony falls under its jurisdiction to take up the matter.On Wednesday a team of forest officials who are part of the Thane leopard rescue team along with wildlife biologists who are part of Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park (MSGNP) team visited Chafyachapada where the incident had occurred on Monday night for an awareness programme.Three-year-old Pranay was attacked by a leopard while he was following his mother Pramila Rinjad. Rinjad who did not know that her son was following her was headed towards a makeshift toilet at Chafyachapada. When she came out she spotted Pranay and saw a leopard pouncing on him from the bushes. Without thinking about her own safety, she shouted and rushed towards the big cat forcing it to run away. However the child had already received severe injuries.Instead of blaming the leopard the locals claimed that such incidents were waiting to happen due to poor lighting, lack of proper toilets. They also blamed poor waste management.Meanwhile Sunil Limaye, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) Territorial said, "Our staff have been patrolling the area. They even spoke to locals who emphasised on the need to have proper lighting so that people walking in the dark can be alert and not come across a leopard accidentally in dark."Limaye said, "These areas need to be well-lit. Even solar lights can be installed. Toilets must be built to reduce chances of human-leopard conflicts."Seven out of 27 hamlets in Aarey Colony still do not have electricity. These include Chafyachapada, Khadakpada, Jivachapada, Vanichapada, and Navapada.

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