Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) covers an area of about 103 sq km and is unique for being the only forest in the world that exists within the municipal limits of a metropolis (Zerah 2007). SGNP is one of the most important sources of water to Mumbai with 8.5 sq km of its area being covered by lakes (Edgaonkar & Chellam 1998). The moist deciduous forests and mangroves in and around SGNP are isolated remnants of the vegetation dominant in the region before the growth of Mumbai. Today, Sanjay Gandhi National Park remains the largest vestige of natural beauty within the city limits.
The Forest Department has launched a year-long initiation project called 'Mumbaikars for SGNP' to assess the conservation status of the common leopard (Panthera pardus) - the only large cat found here and mitigate the human-animal conflict in and around the park. The project is a collaborative effort between the Forest Department and the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), Bangalore. ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ also aims to develop synergy between the citizens of Mumbai and park management authorities.
It is in partnership with various Mumbai-based institutions like Bhavan’s College, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Media and will also reach out to the Police Department and Fire Brigade authorities as they play a crucial role during leopard emergencies.
The project provides a platform for Mumbaikars to understand the park better, voice their concerns regarding the park, participate in surveys and monitor wild animal populations. Many regard leopards in and around SGNP as a safety hazard for humans. However, this study attempts to understand the leopard’s biology and the roots of the perceived conflict. The objective of the project is to use basic scientific methods and involve interested people in Mumbai to better understand the beauty, importance and challenges the leopards and the Park face, in an effort to infuse positive action by Mumbaikars to better manage the park.
The main aims of the project:
- Map past conflict instances
- Use camera traps to assess mammalian species in SGNP, especially to identify some individual leopards which are using the periphery of the Park
- Asses leopard presence in areas away from the Park
- Harness the potential of the internet and other communication channels, to engage and build a partnership between the forest department and the citizens of Mumbai
- Collate existing biodiversity information on the Park
- Identify different threats the Park faces
- Leopards are known to prey on dogs and to visit the areas outside SGNP where dogs are known to be abundant. An attempt will be made to enumerate this prey base and also record the excursions of the leopards on film
- Provide a management plan that will specifically detail the standard operating procedures for the existing leopard centre in the Park
- All this information will be made available online through our website
The ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ logo interweaves the interests and future of people, the national park and its top predator, the leopard.
The leopard cub is symbolic of the vulnerability of the national park, and the park’s need for our support.
The human figures (inspired by Warli art) indicate the synergy that we need to build for our collective (people, the park and the leopard) future.
Edgaonkar, A and Chellam, R. 1998. A Preliminary Study of the Ecology of the Leopard, Panthera pardus fusca, in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Maharashtra, RR98/002, August 2002, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
Zerah, M. 2007. Conflict between green space preservation and housing needs: The case of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai. Cities 24(2): 122-132.
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