In a bid to minimise incidence of human-leopard conflict on the periphery of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), park authorities will be joining hands with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure garbage does not accumulate in these areas.
The decision came after SGNP wrote to the BMC a month ago requesting that garbage being dumped by people living in slums on the periphery of the park be removed frequently to reduce chances of leopards prowling around these areas in search of stray dogs. After the letter was sent, SGNP and BMC officials met a few times to discuss the matter.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) and SGNP Director Sunil Limaye said that the letter was sent to civic body officials with the sole intention of minimising the number of incidents of leopard-human conflict.
“In the past, we have observed that a majority of leopard sightings have occurred near human settlements on the periphery of the park. And the reason for this is that garbage is being dumped close to these settlements, resulting in stray dogs frequenting the spots in search of food. As dogs are relatively easier prey than deer, leopards make the best of the opportunity and prowl around these areas,” Limaye said.
He added that as discussed in the last meeting, the local ward office will be assisting in the clean-up drive and regular removal of garbage. The move will serve a dual purpose and not only will it minimise human-leopard conflict, but also reduce the chances of diseases in the area.
Speaking to MiD DAY, leopard expert Krishna Tiwari said, “Keep the area where you live free of garbage and leopard sighting and human-animal conflict will reduce. Of late, too many buildings and slums have mushroomed on the western periphery of the park and at Ghodbunder road. This is reducing wildlife habitat causing leopards to stray close to human settlements in search of dogs. If the BMC picks up the garbage on a regular basis, then such incidents will be reduced.”
Earlier this year, Tiwari conducted an awareness programme to educate those residing on the border of SGNP how to co-exist with leopards, which saw some positive results.