The cub was first seen on Tuesday in Mumbai’s Aarey Milk colony — a residential area situated near Aarey forest and an eco zone — when it was walking in the rain, visibly distressed and looking for shelter.
A video recorded by a passerby showed the lost cub rummaging through the rubbish with his fur covered in mud. He is then seen sitting behind the metal sheets seeking shelter.
In the afternoon on Tuesday, wildlife authorities received a call about the spotting of the cub from locals, while police and animal rescuers were also informed. The officials have now rescued the animal and moved him to Sanjay Gandhi National Park as they hope to reunite it with the mother.
“The female cub is barely 45 days old. We have now placed her in a spot inside the national park where chances are high of the mother leopard finding her and thereby leading to a reunification,” assistant commissioner (wildlife) at SGNP, Dr Shailesh Pethe was quoted by the Times Of India newspaper as saying.
Photos of the cub sleeping covered in a blanket after being rescued in the late evening have been viral on social media.
Animal spotting in the sensitive Aarey area of Mumbai have been frequent, however, a leopard cub is a rare sight. The colony is situated near the large forest cover which inhabits a diverse range of animals and birds.
The Aarey forest is one of the few green spots left in the congested city, but the green cover is believed to be shrinking with the cutting of trees and construction work right up to the boundaries of the forest, increasing human-animal conflict.
After the spotting of the cub, several people also pointed out that the disturbance caused by the metro construction work is the reason behind the animal venturing out.
“This entire area at Aarey Colony where the cub has been found is disturbed due to the hectic Metro work going on. There are also illegal structures inside. So, this is bound to affect wildlife and lead to man-animal conflict,” a local resident said.
People also pointed out that the spot where the baby leopard was roaming, and other animals are also believed to venture out, is where the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state government wanted to construct a car shed. The proposed construction led to a bitter row between environmentalists and the former Devendra Fadnavis government as it intended to cut down 2,700 trees.
The project was struck down by a court, but the sheds still lie there, under which the cub was trying to take shelter.
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