National park to guide media on man-animal conflict

In their bid to create awareness among mediapersons, so that incidents of man-animal conflict are not sensationalised while reporting in newspapers or on news channels, officials of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), along with biologist Vidya Athreya, would be organising a half day workshop in March for the same.

A leopard relaxes on the compound wall of a housing society in Aarey Colony. File pic

The wildlife experts would be explaining to journalists and photographers about leopard biology and the common reasons behind man-animal conflict. The workshop will be held on March 7 at the Nature Information Centre in SGNP and the interaction would be hosted and facilitated by the officials of the forest department and team members of Mumbaikars for SGNP, an NGO. The team had done research on human-leopard conflict along with the forest department and other researchers.

In addition, journalists would also be taken to catchment areas to give them an overview of the ecosystem services offered by the SGNP to the city, and to the spots where leopard attacks have occurred in the past.

For better reporting
Commenting on the initiative, Athreya said, “We are organising this workshop because media is an important stakeholder in conservation issues, as they are one body which can disseminate information widely. In cases of man-animal conflict, the kind of reporting can make a big difference (if it is sensationalised then it can worsen the problem and can decrease tolerance of people).

We realised that involving the media leads to better reporting, which makes dealing with a complicated issue like man-animal conflict easier for local people (because they realise that it is not just the presence of the leopard, but a lot of other issues that lead to serious conflict).”

As a part of the research, camera traps were used to assess mammalian species in SGNP, especially to obtain minimum number of leopards in the park. One of the researchers said, “The research was also carried out to gain insights into different dimensions of human-leopard conflict in SGNP. The research helped us in identifying locations of leopard mortality due to vehicular accidents on roads that adjoin SGNP.”

Attack stats
In the last four months, officials of the Thane Forest Department from Aarey colony trapped six leopards. While four people were killed in leopard attacks in the city and two sustained injuries.

Jan 6: Savita Santosh Warte from Khambyacha Pada sustained injuries in a leoprd attack
Jan 1: Vinod Ramji Hadal (18), a resident of Maroshi Pada, was attacked by a leopard while he was answering nature’s callĀ 

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