Mumbaikars For Sanjay Gandhi National Park: Kill Conflict, Not Animals

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Big cat spotted by the members

I stay close to Sanjay Gandhi National Park and whenever my townie friends come over home, a visit to the National Park is a must. More often than not, one of them asks, have you ever spotted a leopard? No, I haven’t but yes, every time I go, I do spot new huts and more pigs there! It’s sad to notice that humans are taking over land meant for the wild animals. We are making the city filthier by the day and blame leopards when they wander out near civilization. While I was checking more about National Park, a friend added me to the group called Mumbaikars for SGNP on Facebook, and I must say, I was impressed by what they are trying to achieve in Mumbai. Here is a little bit about the group and their work.

Sanjay Gandhi National Park image- wikipedia
Sanjay Gandhi National Park image- wikipedia

Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai is spread over 104 sq km and is the only park in the world to be situated in the limits of metropolis and home to 2400 year old Buddhist caves. It houses a variety of trees, shrubs, birds, reptiles and animals and is an important source of water in the city with 8.5 sq km of its area being covered by lakes. In simple words, it acts like a sponge which absorbs rainwater and provides it to the city for rest of the year.

Volunteers of Mumbaikars for SGNP
Volunteers of Mumbaikars for SGNP

Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park
It is a project launched by the Forest Department to assess the conservation status of the common leopard (Panthera pardus, the only large cat found in the park) and mitigate the human-leopard conflict in and around the park. The project is a collaborative effort between the Forest Department and the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), Bangalore. It also aims to develop harmony between the citizens of Mumbai and park management authorities.

Volunteers at work
Volunteers at work

Need Of The Times
Objective of Mumbaikars for SGNP is mitigating human-leopard conflicts using scientific methods and also involving interested citizens in the welfare of both animals and people alike. This project acts a platform for Mumbaikars to understand the park better, voice their concerns regarding the park, participate in surveys and monitor wild animal populations.

The Team
This project was started under leadership of Mr. Sunil Limaye, Director of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and the core team included Vidya Athreya of Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore and Diya Banerjee who is currently involved with different wildlife projects in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. They were joined by other coordinators, photographers and zoology students from Mumbai. Various Mumbai based institutions like Bhavan’s College, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) have partnered with this project.

Big cat spotted by the members
Big cat spotted by the members

The Learning
The team discovered that the leopard is a very shy animal and tries to avoid human beings as much as possible. However, since humans  are getting closer to the leopard’s habitat, the leopards are also unknowingly being drawn to human settlements. The reason is simple.  There is often filth around human settlements where dogs, goats and pigs thrive. These animals are easy prey for leopards and hence the cats get drawn to residential areas. There are around 700 stray dogs near the boundary of the Park. The tribals who have been living there for many years have now learnt to co-exist but many others who are encroaching the area can’t co-exist and hence this creates a problem for both humans and leopards.

Plastic collected from National Park by members of Mumbaikars for SGNP
Plastic collected from National Park by members of Mumbaikars for SGNP

Taking Action
Member of Mumbaikars for SGNP are alert about the activities taking place inside the park. They organize clean up drives and prohibit visitors from littering the place. On Mahashivratri, they checked each and every visitor going inside the park and took inflammable material and plastic bags from them and replaced it with a paper bags.

Participate and protect!
I believe it is our responsibility as citizens of Mumbai to do our bit for nature. Whether it is a simple act of saving water by playing Dry Holi or understand our flora and fauna better to be able to coexist, each one of us can make a difference. For anyone who is interested, the group’s Facebook page lists on going activities like clean-up drives in National Park and much more wherein you can participate and spread awareness. You can also share your own experiences, learning and ideas about how to keep Mumbai clean and green.

Know of other efforts like this for a better Mumbai? Share with us by commenting below or email us at story@mumbaimag.com.

Post By Omkar Padwal (42 Posts)

Loves classical and rock music alike, passionate about painting, writing, photography, travelling and eating!

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Omkar Padwal

Omkar Padwal
Loves classical and rock music alike, passionate about painting, writing, photography, travelling and eating!