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Relieving in open near SGNP? Beware of the big cat

Friday, 18 January 2013 - 8:35am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

After Six fatal leopard attacks in as many months, park officials say big cats target preys who are less than 3-ft tall.

The forest department investigating the cases of man-animal conflict in and around Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has stumbled upon an interesting fact: Leopards target preys that are around three-foot high. 
The authorities have pointed out that in most of the cases of death the victims were either children or adults sitting in the jungle to attend to their nature’s call. In the past six months, six deaths and 14 other cases of man-animal conflict were reported in and around SGNP.  

“The leopard has an average eye level of three feet. In most of the cases that we investigated in the recent past, it was found that the victims were mainly children or people sitting to relieve themselves in the open,” said Santosh Saste, assistant conservator of forest (Vigilance), SGNP.    

The authorities have now advised the tribals living inside the national park to avoid letting children alone or relieve themselves openly in the forest areas. A host of meetings of the forest officials, NGOs, Film City (Goregaon) authorities and tribals settled inside the national park were held recently to discuss the issue. Empower Foundation, an NGO working in this aspect and which organises such meetings, has even marked over a dozen spots where the leopards are usually seen and posted warning signs on them.

“Animals can never change their behaviour. Secondly, moving the tribals out of SGNP and rehabilitating them is a long-drawn process. Hence, reducing of man-animal conflict is the need of the hour,” said Jalpesh Mehta, founder, Empower Foundation.

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