Leopard sightings are not uncommon in the area, as the camp shares its boundary with the forested patch of Aarey. But on Sunday morning, a staffer from the police camp got the shock of his life when he went to the gym and spotted the leopard stretched out there.
One of the officers from the State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) camp said, "Around 8.30 am, one of our colleagues had gone to the gym. When he opened the door, he saw a leopard sitting in the corner. He immediately shut the door and reported the sighting to the authorities."
As the news spread, a crowd gathered nearby, the SRPF soon had the mob under control. No one was allowed to go near the leopard's hiding spot. Around 9.30 am, Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, from the Thane Forest Department (Territorial), reached the spot along with the leopard rescue team. The SGNP veterinarian, Dr Shailesh Pethe, also arrived on the scene with his team and Range Forest Officer (RFO) Sanjay Waghmode, honorary wildlife warden of Thane, Pawan Sharma. Volunteers monitoring leopard activity in Aarey Milk Colony also helped the forest department to rescue the big cat.
Dr Shailesh Pethe inspected the area and observed that there was an opening through which the animal might escape. "We first made sure that the opening was closed with plywood. Around 11.15 am, I climbed up a ladder and darted the leopard through a small opening above the door," said Dr Pethe.
The leopard was immediately taken to the SGNP leopard rescue centre. "The animal is a fully grown male leopard, and is fit and healthy," added Dr Pethe. Sources said the animal would be released back into its natural habitat at the earliest.
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