In order to avoid any human-leopard conflict in and around SGNP, and to stop leopards from venturing into human settlements that are located on the fringes of the park, park authorities have started filling up the artificial water holes in the park as the natural sources of water dry up during the summer.
Out of the total 20, seven artificial water holes in the Krishnagiri Upvan range in the park were filled with fresh water, while 11 in the Tulsi range were also brimming when this reporter visited the park yesterday. Speaking to MiD DAY, SGNP Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) Deepak Sawant said, “In the summer, natural sources of water like the rivers, small and large water streams dry up, and so we have started the process of filling up the artificial water holes in the forest with fresh potable water, so that wild animals don’t have to search for water.”
Last year May, MiD DAY had reported (‘Beasts search for water, find human beings’), wherein it came to light how leopards from SGNP were entering adhivasi padas (tribal settlements) inside the park in search of water. Following the revelations that came to the fore then that park authorities were not filling the artificial ponds, which must be full at the start of summertime, authorities had swung into action.
This year, however, park authorities have taken the onus on themselves. One of the reasons behind the same is that forest department officials want to prevent human-leopard conflicts. “Last year there was no water in the artificial water holes as the officials who were in charge of the SGNP then were not at all concerned about the wild animals. Soon after Sunil Limaye (the present Director of SGNP) took over, a lot of things have improved in the park. This year the forest officials have already filled the artificial water,” said Krishna Tiwari, environmentalist and wildlife expert.
There are also some natural water holes in the forest which have water throughout the year but wild animals don’t prefer drinking water at these spots, as most of them are polluted by the tribals who wash their clothes with detergents in them. To ensure that the number of water holes do not fall short, the park authorities have also constructed many new artificial water holes and have filled them up with water.