Leopard kills tribal woman
Express News Service
Mumbai, February 20: LATE on Sunday night, an adivasi woman from the tribal hamlet of Navapada inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SNGP), Borivali, became the first fatality of a leopard attack this year.
Kamala Varali (50) had gone to the nearby hamlet of Thakurpada to meet her relative Chandukar Thakre. But as Thakre wasn’t home, Varali decided to return home.
She was on her way back when a leopard pounced on her and dragged her—by the neck—about 100 metres into a few shrubs, where her body was discovered by a local on Monday morning. Varali had suffered injuries on her neck and stomach and her right leg had been bitten off.
This is the second leopard attack inside the park—there are 24 hamlets within it—this year.
On February 10, Ravanpada resident Prathamesh Sonwalkar (9) was also mauled by a leopard when he left his house at night to answer nature’s call.
Sonwalkar is now recuperating at
According to forest officials, Varali was probably attacked by a leopard that was scouting the area for water.
‘‘Blood spots were found along the route,’’ said Assistant Conservator of Forests Kailash Birari. ‘‘We also found a black thread at the spot.’’
Conservator of Forests Dr Dr P N Munde pointed out that the Forest Department had repeatedly advised the adivasis not to venture out into the park after sunset. ‘‘They don’t take the precautionary measures we have asked them to follow,’’ he added.
A widow, Varali is survived by three married daughters and a son.
While forest officials are hoping that the under-construction boundary wall—work on 12.76 km of the 22-km wall ordered by the Bombay High Court in 1997 is over—will seal the park area and reduce the attacks, adivasis in the area are still struggling to cope with the menace.
‘‘We have been living here for generations, but we are always scared as the leopards keep roaming here,’’ said Varali’s neighbour Manjula Pavara.
‘‘We don’t let our children outside after dark. We have no electricity, so we can’t even switch on lights to scare the animals,’’ added Parbati Barap. ‘‘After 7 pm, we just remain locked inside our houses.’’
ON THE PROWL
Year Injured Dead
2003 15 14
2004 11 19
2005 3 3
2006 1 1
Forest Department’s advice to tribals
* Keep surroundings clean
* Sleep with lights on
* Don’t let children roam around after sunset
* After dark, only venture out in groups
* Don’t keep animals like hens and dogs near or inside the house
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