Mulund: Leopard attacks man who tried to save pet

A leopard attacked a 29-year-old man in Mulund late on Saturday night. The Mulund police said the man had tried to protect his pet Rottweiler, which was tied outside the house, from the wild cat, which then attacked him.

The attack took place at Rahul Nagar, Mulund Colony. Several leopard attacks have been reported in Mulund and Bhandup recently, primarily from encroachments into the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) forest land. On January 13, a male leopard attacked six residents after straying into a housing society in Nanepada, Mulund East. The forest department and police conducted a four-hour rescue operation, following which a team from the SGNP tranquillised the animal.

The victim in Saturday’s attack, Suraj Udaybhan Gavai, 29, works with an investment firm and lives his parents, mother Meena Gavai and father Udaybhan Gavai. “On Saturday night, the family went to sleep as usual. Around 1.45 am, the Rottweiler, which was tied outside, started yelping. Suraj awoke and opened the door to see what was happening,” said Manjulal Dashrath Gavai, Suraj’s uncle. “He thought it was a snake – a snake was once seen on our verandah – and that’s why the dog was agitated.”

When Suraj opened the door, he was caught between the dog and the leopard, and the wild cat attacked him on the head and one shoulder. “Almost unthinkingly, my son managed to push the leopard aside and managed to run. But the animal clawed at Suraj’s right eye, which is badly damaged, and forehead,” said Meena Gavai.

The animal later fled, and residents began to gather at the Gavai residence. The leopard had also attacked the pet dog, and it suffered minor injuries. Meanwhile, Suraj was rushed to a nearby private hospital, and from there to KEM Hospital in Parel, where he received 10 stitches. A corrective surgical procedure was also conducted on his right eye.

Dr Avinash Supe, dean of the hospital, said: “The patient was evaluated by a team of three doctors: an opthamalogist, a general surgeon and a plastic surgeon. The patient suffered injuries to his right lower eyelid and scalp. The plastic surgeon sutured the injuries and the patient is stable, but we have admitted him for observation since he was complaining of giddiness.”

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“The whole area, called Rahul Nagar, is an encroachment on forest land, and this the reason for several attacks by wild animals here. We are educating people to not come out of house in the night as they might be attacked by animals. Wild animals now prefer to come to populated areas as it is easy to attack strays and pet dogs and flee with them,” said Pawan Sharma, founder, Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare, which works to mitigate humanwildlife conflict.

However, residents claim there are security walls to protect them from the park, on the Mulund side.

Meanwhile, the Mulund police made a diary entry of the incident and forest officials carried out a panchanama of the area. “We will soon be installing cameras in the area to monitor animal movement at night. We will also patrol the area with forest officials for a few days,” Sharma said.

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