Sunday, June 16, 2013

Borivali Police Constables Receive Helpful Tips on Controlling Leopards

Police officers receive training from members of Sanjay Gandhi National Park's leopard rescue team

It has been recently reported that about a dozen police constables from the Kasturba police station in Mumbai's Borivali suburb received training in tackling a very unusual problem: leopards. The training was provided by volunteers from Sanjay Gandhi National Park and its leopard rescue team. Last year, twelve people were killed by leopards in Mumbai as a result of animals straying into the city and the death count over the past ten years stood at over a hundred. According to park officials, lives could have been saved had people been more careful. The leopard rescue team, which had earlier carried out similar training courses at police stations in Aarey and Dahisar colonies, stated that the police officers play a very crucial role in these situations since they are the first to reach the scene of the incident. When asked whether the police have the right to shoot a leopard to save people's lives, the forest officials answered that there was no need to kill the animal when other alternatives were available. The officials also warned the police officers not to set up traps for the leopards themselves, and recommended they wait for the experts. Field Director Sunil Limaye stated that if the police officers are trained and outfitted in tackling these situations, it would be a tremendous help in rescuing the leopard and saving people from attacks. Sadanand Date, Joint Commissioner of Police, expressed his gratitude to the training as "useful", and promised that the police will commit in "every possible way" to the bids to protect both the people and wildlife.
Leopard in Sanjay Gandhi National Park

I'm extremely proud to see what efforts are being undertaken in Mumbai, in order to protect both the general public and the wildlife. The city's area has been prone to attacks by leopards for several years, especially near Sanjay Gandhi National Park. In order to tackle this issue, the park's volunteers and leopard rescue team has conducted training sessions at various local police stations and educated their members on how to help out in the ongoing battle to prevent any fatal encounters between people and leopards. This is because whenever an attack occurs, police are usually first to show up at scene of the incident. The major factor during the aftermath of a leopard attack is the public reaction. This can be seen as people swarm in great numbers to either drive away or even kill the leopard suspected of being responsible for an attack on the spot. Sanjay Pagare, a senior member of the leopard rescue team, pointed out that an angry mob would also provoke an attack from a leopard in order to protect itself from its human enemies. He further added that a leopard can easily be rescued if crowds of people are not allowed to go near it. Therefore, police officers are the only means of keeping an angry mob at bay from the leopard.
Borivali skyline and Sanjay Gandhi National Park

One of the volunteers named Dipti Humraskar stated that one way to keep such crowds away is by establishing a temporary curfew under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code. She provided a recent example in which a leopard strayed into a busy area in Dhule. The police, in response, called for a curfew until it was caught. As a result, many lives were saved. Another major problem within the peripheries of Sanjay Gandhi National Park is the poor distribution of garbage resulting from occupation by migrant workers arriving to help with the city's construction. This attracts stray dogs from all over Borivali, and they in turn draw leopards which see them as their primary food source. This is why I firmly believe it is also crucial to give priority in improvising the distribution of garbage to keep leopards from straying beyond the boundaries of the national park. One method is by developing and distributing special garbage cans and dumpsters similar to the ones used to keep bears from raiding people's garbage in North America. In addition, I also believe that this news should be taken as an inspiration for police officers in other parts of India where leopard and other animal attacks are rampant. By working alongside wildlife experts and forest officials, police officers can also lend their support in ensuring both people and wildlife live together in harmony.

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