Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Leapord attack!!

It was Monday the 8th of October. On a sultry evening Deepak finished his work
and met Pushparaj at the office parking. Usually he traveled by bus but today
as he was leaving late and Pushpa was alone he had asked Pushpa for a lift back
home. Traveling from Thane to Kandivli is a hectic and long journey especially
by bus. So when a ride is offered its hard to refuse it. But that was soon going
to change for Deepak.
To reach west Mumbai from this side you have 2 routes. One is through Vikroli
junction and via Powai and the other is Ghodbundar Road. If you imagine the
Borivali National Park as a circle these two routes would form 2 semicircles
along its periphery. The Powai route is very crowded and long traffic jams and
bad roads make it a hard journey on a two-wheeler. Ghodbundar road is less
crowded and so they decided to travel by this road.
This road is quite close to the boundary of the national park and it has few
road lights to is quite dark and scary though there is a steady traffic of
trucks and buses on the road and also some residential complex along the way.
What happened next scared the wits out of them.
Some 20 mins since they left office Pushparaj slowed the bike at a speed-breaker
He was travelling well on the left shoulder of the road to keep out of the path
of the trucks. As he slowed the bike on his left there was a snarl and out of
the bush came a leopard with his jaws open and ready to attack. See him Pushpa
yelled and started blaring the horn and at the same time accelerated the bike to
get away fast. The leopard hit out by his paw and because the bike had moved
ahead a little it caught Deepak on the thigh. Their speed carried them forward
and the leopard gave up after a short chase. They were still honking and yelling
and after a couple of mins Deepak felt the cool wind on his thigh and look down
to see a ripped trouser and some gashes on his thigh. They raced away and didn't
stop till they were at Mira road and then immediately went to a doctor.
Luckily the injury was not so serious and the wound was cleaned and bandaged and
he was advised to take the rabies shots.
This was the hottest topic in our group for almost the whole of last week.
I had recently read Jim Corbetts 'Man eaters of Kumaon' and it sent a chill down
my spine when I realised what a close shave they had. If he had fallen of the
bike, or if the bike had stalled on the sudden acceleration or if both had
fallen of the bike the aftermath would have been deadly. They should thank all
their guardian angels for this lucky escape.
Deepak after the initial shock was soon enjoying a sort of a mini celebrity
status among his relatives and friends. But he deserved it.
There was no news of the leopard for someday. They had in fact been to a police
station up ahead but the police took it lightly ( the usual Indian callousness)
and told them to forget it because they were safe and such incident were bound
to happen near the park.
On Friday there was a news in the paper that a leopard had been killed by a
truck on the same road. It was the same leopard and Deepak was planning to make
a frame of the picture when he last told me about it.
A sad end for the creature. There is always a bitter conflict between Man and
wild animals when they cross each others path. The park is never safe from human
encroachments and hence the animals after driven out of their own habitat.
The park is bang in the center of Mumbai and its a very unsuitable location for
wild animals like leopards as they need a large territory and good prey to stay
happy. Still they are largely timid creatures and so when a leopard attacks
people in such a way the authorities should seriously do something about it.

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