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Rare sight: Jackal spotted at mangroves in Mumbai

A wildlife enthusiast from an NGO spotted a jackal in the mangrove belt near Bhandup pumping station while birdwatching; wildlife experts demand conservation programmes for both the animals and mangroves

It was a rare sight when a wildlife lover spotted a jackal in a mangrove belt off the Eastern Express Highway recently. With the rapid destruction of mangroves, the animal being spotted is a rare sight.

The jackal in the mangroves near Bhandup pumping station, which was spotted while the volunteer was on his way back from birdwatching. The same man had spotted two jackals in 2012 as well. Pic/Adwait Jadhav
The jackal in the mangroves near Bhandup pumping station, which was spotted while the volunteer was on his way back from birdwatching. The same man had spotted two jackals in 2012 as well. Pic/Adwait Jadhav

The jackal was spotted by 21-year-old Adwait Jadhav, a wildlife volunteer with Resquink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW), when he had gone birdwatching in the mangrove belt near the Bhandup pumping station off the Eastern Express Highway.

Pawan Sharma from RAWW said, “The animal was spotted more than two weeks back, when Adwait had gone birdwatching early in the morning. He was lucky two years ago, too, when he captured two jackals on lens in the same belt.”

Calls for conservation
The sight gave hope to environmentalists and wildlife experts, since animals were still inhabiting the otherwise rapidly declining mangrove cover. Jackal sightings were common in the nineties in the mangrove belts of Dahisar, Lokhandwala, Ghodbunder, Malvani, Malad too.

But, the rapid destruction of mangroves, along with illegal dumping of construction debris, say wildlife experts, has led to the decline in spotting them. Experts demanded proper conservation schemes to help preserve the animals and their natural habitat around the city.

Sharma added, “If we want to save this beautiful animal, the government should come up with a proper programme for the conservation of jackals. The Mangroves Cell should get involved with likeminded individuals and organisations, and spread awareness and act necessary towards conserving mangroves.”

Wildlife experts say
Krishna Tiwari from the Forest and Wildlife Conservation Centre (FWCC) said, “Jackal spotting was very common till the late nineties. It is rare now, as mangroves and forest space has decreased, the ever-increasing urban development has converted villages into housing complexes. I think a proper study should be done to enhance habitats like mangroves.”

Atul Sathe from the Bombay Natural History Society explained, “Jackals commonly live on the edge of dense forests, near mangroves, in scrub forests, hilly areas and agricultural areas. Earlier jackals were quite common in most suburbs of Mumbai.

For instance, people who have been staying in Borivli, Kandivli and Dahisar since the last 40 years say that seeing and hearing jackals was a common phenomenon in the fields next to the few housing societies, till about 20 years ago. I have myself seen jackals near mangroves in Gorai about 15 years ago. But they are rarely seen in that area now.”

He added, “Jackals are still reported from some areas in Sewri, Trombay, Vikroli, Thane, Uttan, Panvel and Uran. It is necessary to save the remaining mangroves, open land, agricultural land and forests in the Mumbai region, to ensure the survival of such mammals. In rural areas, the use of pesticides should be kept under control.”

Authorities say
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forest, Mangroves Cell, said, “Sightings of jackals in the mangroves near Bhandup area are a good sign. It is our job to protect mangroves. We regularly patrol the area to make sure they’re safe.”

>> He had photographed two jackals in the same belt in 2012
>> Jackal sightings were common earlier in mangroves near Dahisar, Lokhandwala, Ghodbunder, Malvani etc
>> Experts blame destruction of mangroves and loss of habitat for decline in sightings

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