12 deaths in 5 years | Rise in hit-and-run leopard deaths: Forest dept launches awareness drive in Valsad | Surat News


The forest department has begun an awareness drive in Valsad to educate vehicle riders passing through areas that have seen an increasing number of leopard deaths over the years.

According to estimates, 12 leopards died in vehicle accidents in the past five years, while 25 died due to natural causes.

Last month, a one-and-a-half-year-old adult female leopard was hit by an unknown speeding vehicle along the coastal highway near Chikhla village in Valsad North forest division. A case under Wild life Protection Act 1972 Section 9 was registered against unknown vehicle riders.

Following the accident, incharge Assistant Conservator of Forest Hiren Patel directed forest officials to carry out the awareness drive among the villagers and other people on the highways to prevent such incidents by erecting boards and displaying banners in the accident-prone areas.

According to officials, forest guards would be deployed at various such areas where the vehicle riders will be guided on how to drive in the lonely roads in the forest areas.

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In the 2023 census, there was a 40 per cent rise of leopards in the Valsad north division.

“We have identified 12 accident-prone areas for leopards. Leopards mostly travel during night time in search of food and water and it is a shy animal. In the 12 incidents of accidents causing death of leopards, till date nobody had been arrested as it is difficult to locate and identify the vehicle rider. The incidents generally take place at night and there is no eye witness,” Patel said.

“We are also carrying out meetings at the village level in different Gram panchayats to spread awareness among the locals on what precautions should be taken if anybody spots leopards,” he added. The forest area in Valsad is spread over 62,835 hectares.


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