Leopard in IIT Bombay Campus? Just Your Regular Visitor!
“No exams, no studies, no quotas — leopards and panthers directly admit themselves to IITB”, “We hope they acquire a degree before leaving IITB”, or even better “If it continues anymore, they may join the IITB faculty team.” As hilarious as these sentences sound, they have always been doing the rounds among the IIT Bombay students and more on social media.
Trust me, it’s not really funny when you actually spot a leopard in IIT Bombay campus, which is especially known for its frondescence. The plenty rains of Bombay increase this verdure manifold. All major fauna are found in opulence on the campus. But a leopard in IIT Bombay campus, quite rightly, does create some furore and trepidation!
Leopard In IIT Bombay Campus
For those living on the IIT Bombay campus, life could include an unusual thrill – leopard spotting. The 30 to 40 spotted cats that visit the campus, mostly from the nearby Sanjay Gandhi National Park, are examples of a recent trend of increasing leopard encounters in urban and semi-urban areas. The proximity of the campus to the national park has also led to occasional sightings of panthers, and Gharial crocodiles along the banks of Lake Powai. Sometimes, they stray into the campus in chase of hunt or mating partner.
The campus was abuzz with the latest sighting of a leopard near two hostels – 7 and 9 – at the north-western edge, adjacent to the national park in November 2016. Experts said that there was no need to trap the leopard as it was a mere sighting. “Leopard sightings are common at areas near IIT-B, Powai. The animal has not harmed or posed a danger to anyone on campus,” said Krishna Tiwari, founder, forest and wildlife conservation society. The institution had set up camera traps and installed a cage within the campus to tackle the situation.
The IIT-B security office also issued a notice to all campus residents, advising them to be cautious while moving in that area. They shared a list of guidelines given by SGNP officials in order to resolve man-animal conflicts.
Check out this photograph, which had gone viral on social media portals, of a leopard in IIT Bombay campus – or more specifically, one of the hostels.
In the past, IITB also had a surprise visitor when a crocodile entered its campus from the nearby lake and created a hullabaloo in the area. The crocodile killed one of the ducks in the artificial pond within the campus. So, a trap was laid with a duck inside. Once caught, the crocodile was released into the Powai lake.
In 2014, a leopard had strayed into the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay after chasing a dog for food. Its roars, pugmarks and other indications of its presence were found in the Metallurgy Department Workshop, around a kilometer from the main entrance of IIT B. After nearly four days of trying to find it, the forest department called off the search, ruling that the leopard may have quietly slunk away into the Aarey Milk Colony forests.
Steps Taken by IITB to Ensure Safety of Students
Many times, at night, dogs are mistaken for leopards and false alarms are raised. These hoax alarms make the entire situation more complicated than it actually is. Students have time and again confessed that they were afraid to step out alone in the dark.
To tackle the problem, IIT Bombay has released a cautionary notice to the students and residents on the campus to stay away from certain areas between 6 pm and 6 am. “There have been occasions when leopards have been spotted around the campus and we release such cautionary notices every year,” said the IIT-Bombay PRO.
SGNP officials have said that the prey base of leopards constituted of domestic animals, mainly dogs, which were attracting them to the campus. “The campus authorities have to make sure that open food waste from the campus has to be removed that attract dogs. Automatically, leopards will not enter the campus area in search of them,” said Anwar Ahmed, new chief conservator and director, SGNP.
The security team at IITB is trained to manage such situations efficiently. So far, no student or staff has been attacked or harmed in any way by a leopard. The students have also created a bot with a wireless camera to enter into areas where leopards were sighted in the past and monitor it from a safe distance.
The forest officers in co-ordination with the IIT security have increased the patrolling inside the campus, especially at night. Officers have also been armed with lathis and firecrackers to scare away the animal. So, it’s crucial for students to not panic and alert campus authorities about any recent sightings to avoid any mishaps.
Take a look at these guidelines issued by the SGNP officials for IITB students
- Be alert after dark (when leopards are active). Put on music on the mobile phone so that the big cat knows that you are a human being, which it goes out of its way to avoid.
- Do not move about alone after dark.
- If a leopard is sighted, give it way and allow it to move peacefully. Mere sightings of leopards do not translate into danger.
- Do not form a crowd around the animal.
- Ensure that the garbage is disposed and no feral dogs are present in the locality.
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