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Monday, July 16, 2012

Leopard kills & eats 7-yr-old on edge of nat’l park Fatal Big Cat Attack First Since 2006

Mumbai: A seven-year-old girl, Sanjana Thorat, was snatched by a leopard at around 10.30pm on Sunday from Shankar Tekdi in Mulund Colony. Nine hours later, the girl's head was found about 500 metres from her hutment; there was no trace of the torso. 

    This is the first instance of a leopard kill since 2006 when a six-year-old girl was killed in Kandivli. 
    The incident occurred when Sanjana, accompanied 

by her mother and grandmother, went to attend nature's call. With her mother and grandmother standing guard, Sanjana climbed on top of the water pipeline, and as she sat atop it, the leopard pounced on her, caught her by the neck and dragged her towards the jungle. The two women watched helplessly as the girl was being dragged away and soon they started screaming for help. 

    Hearing their screams, people of the slum, which is located on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, rushed to the spot. They also immediately called the police, who informed the forest officials. "After quizzing Sanjana's mother, forest officials, police and locals set out in search of the girl at around 12.15am on Monday," Pawan Sharma, a local who was involved in the search operations, said. 
    It was only at around 7.30am on Monday that they were able to find the head of the girl. 
In the night, leopard might have mistaken small girl for prey 
Mumbai: The search party that set out into the national park jungle to trace Sanjana could not make any headway due to heavy rain and darkness. The child's remains was found early in the morning, said G T Chavan, deputy conservator of forests (Thane). 
    "The head was found completely damaged, while there was no trace of the body. It seems the leopard pounced on the girl because she was small and might have mistaken her for a prey," said V B Marathe, assistant commissioner of police (Bhandup & Mulund division). 
    Forest officials said this was the first incident of killing by a leopard in the last six years. 
    "There have been instances of leopard spotting in human habitations in and around the forest. Leopards often stray into human inhabited areas to look for
easy prey and small animals, but no leopard has attacked humans for some years," Chavan said, adding that the slum is an encroachment on the periphery of the national park and people are accustomed to leopards straying into the area. 
    On Saturday, a leopard had entered the 
premises of Whistling Woods International and walked out only on Sunday afternoon. No loss of life or property was reported. 
    Sanjana was the Thorats' third child and a class two student of a civic-run school. She was a popular child in the locality. "The incident happened barely 5 metres away from our hutment," Sanjana's father Dnyaneshwar told TOI, adding, "We have been staying here from our childhood and such an incident has never happened." 
    Sanjana's mother was inconsolable. "My daughter forced me to take her out. Initially, I objected but later agreed and took my mother along. As Sanjana sat on the water pipeline, the leopard pounced on her and dragged her towards the jungle," she said between tears. 
    The police have registered a case under the Criminal Procedure Act (unnatural death, killed by wildlife).

Sanjana Thorat was squatting on a water pipe in Mulund when she was snatched. Only her head was recovered the next day

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