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Mumbai cop ‘catches’ a python!


Mumbai: A Mumbai policemasn notched a different kind of a ‘catch’ Tuesday – a full-grown python from a thickly-populated residential area.

Returning home Tuesday morning after a night duty, sub-inspector Jaywant Dukhande of Nirmal Nagar police station ate some food and was planning to catch some sleep.

But a call on his mobile made him wide awake – the caller said that there was “a huge snake” on a tree and requested him to rush there.

Dukhande did, grabbing the basic items useful for catching snakes and other reptiles and went speeding on his motorcycle to the Mumbai Exhibition Centre, on the busy Western Express Highway at Goregaon.

Very close to the service road adjacent to the highway, they espied their quarry – a long Indian Rock Python – which was entwined in the branches of the tree at a considerable height.

Dukhande – a volunteer with the group Friends of Snakes – quickly decided that if the slithery visitor had to be caught, the tree branch would have to be hacked.

With a couple of friends, he quickly brought down the branch – along with the 8-foot long python.

“It was very healthy and alert and it’s a mystery how it could have reached the place it did since it would have to cross a very busy highway, two service roads, a couple of wide drains and a high boundary wall,” Dukhande told IANS.

Slowly, he untangled it from the tree branch and put it in a reptile bag that he usually carries with him on such ‘calls’.

He drove straight to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), five kilometres away and released it in the thick jungles. Among a large variety of flora and fauna, the SGNP also has a scores of leopards, deers and antelopes, the world’s largest Atlas butterflies and a tiger and lion safari.

Incidentally, this is only the third instance of a python being sighted or caught in Mumbai in the past 10 years.

A fortnight ago, Dukhande and his team nabbed a python at Thakur village in Kandivli East and released it in the forest. Nearly ten years ago, he had caught one from Dahisar suburb and sent it packing to the SGNP.

Incidentally, leopards are quite a common sight in the northwestern and northeastern suburbs of Mumbai, thanks to their growing numbers in the 100-square km SGNP – the world’s only national park situated within city limits.

Three years ago, residents of the Sanskruti Complex in Kandivli East rubbed their eyes in disbelief when they woke up and saw a massive Sambar (almost as tall as a horse) with majestic horns grazing away in the society’s garden in the cool misty winter morning.

A few years ago, a leopard which had come chasing dogs inside the compound of the Regalia Apartments complex in Dahisar East, knocked off scores of flower pots and bicycles parked in the society’s premises.

In the past few years, many leopards have been caught hiding in public buses and in residential areas bordering the SGNP.