MOEFCC Asks State To Take Urgent Action On Saving Leopard's Habitat in Aarey Forest

On September 7, 2019, Empower Foundation had written to MOEFCC seeking intervention on the threat to Leopard listed in Schedule I of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.


On Thursday, October 3 when the Bombay High Court dismissed the cases advising it to be taken up at Supreme Court, the Joint Director, Wildlife, MOEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change), Government of India, New Delhi wrote an urgent letter vide Speed Post directing Chief Wildlife Warden,  Government of Maharashtra asking for a "Necessary action on the matter on destruction of Leopard's habitat and non forest activities in Aarey Forest at the earliest"

Forwarding the representation made by City-based wildlife conservation NGO, Empower Foundation on Proof of presence of Leopards in Aarey Forest, Mumbai seeking urgent action on saving the Habitat of Leopards and Wildlife of Aarey, Joint Director, Wildlife, MOEFCC took a note of the matter on Aarey being a leopards habitat which is threatened by construction and non forest activities.

Also Read: Save Aarey: Tribal Community In Aarey Pay Tribute To The Trees

On September 7, 2019, Empower Foundation had written to MOEFCC seeking intervention on the threat to Leopard listed in Schedule I of The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. under the highest level of protection, which also falls under the IUCN's Red List under the Vulnerable category (IUCN 2019). The representation had also evidence of the presence of Leopards in Aarey Forest near the proposed Parking and maintenance shed of Metro 3. The representation annexed the recent Government-certified evidence proving the presence of Leopards in Aarey vide which the Range Forest Officer, Thane Forest Division, Department of Forest, Government of Maharashtra vide RTI reply dated May 30, 2019, with reference No. 1/M.A./606/2019-2020 confirmed that in the last 3 years (2016, 2017 and 2018), 7 (Seven) Leopards were sighted (rescued/trapped/tranquilized) by their department in the Aarey Region. This government record proves the presence of Leopards in Aarey Forest.

According to Secretary-General of Empower Foundation Sheetal Mehta,

"AareyForest is not just about trees. It is about the whole biodiversity which impacts humans. It is about 290 wildlife species in Aarey, out of which five species, including 9 leopards are in IUCN's RedList and are mandatory to be protected. AareyForest is a Forest as per government records and is a habitat to  16 types of mammals, 80 butterfly species, 76 bird species, 38 types of reptiles and 9 Leopards. We are happy and encouraged to see the MOEFCC and Central Government taking cognizance of the fact on the presence of leopards in Aarey Forest in and around the Metro 3 site as also confirmed by State Government and probable threat to their habitat due to construction or non forest activities. We hope that the State takes action to protect the habitat and not bring shame to India in front of IUCN or UNEP and the world. Protecting our Biodiversity is extremely important as Mumbai becomes the 4th Most polluted megacity and especially when there are 7 options for making a Metro shed."

Also Read: Save Aarey: SC A Ray Of Hope For Activists As Bombay HC Dismisses All Petitions Opposing Metro 3 Carshed In Aarey

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