'See leopard in campus? call SGNP'
Students of IIT-B Powai who frequently spot leopards roaming in their campus can now capture images of the spotted creatures and send them to the ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ team, which will match the images with those obtained by camera-trapping, so that accurate information of the visiting leopards can be obtained. A preliminary study is being conducted on the distribution and behaviour of leopards in the campus, and the factors influencing their frequent appearances in the area.
In order to avoid man-animal conflicts and create awareness among the students and staff staying at IIT-B, an interaction session was organised last evening at IIT-B, in course of which researcher Sunetro Ghoshal, who has been working on human-wildlife conflict, made a presentation on the issue, where he enlightened his audience on ways to avoid conflict between man and beast.
The programme shed light on the complex relationship between leopards and the locals in the area. Precautionary measures and emergency protocols to reduce potential conflicts were also discussed. Dipti Humraskar, a visiting wildlife biologist working for gharial conservation with the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, also interacted with the students.
A spokesperson from SGNP said, “We have been receiving calls on our control room number about frequent leopard sightings in the IIT-B campus. We don’t want any human-wildlife conflict and so an interactive session was held between wildlife experts, students and other people staying in the campus. We have requested the students that whenever they see a leopard moving in the campus, they should stay away from them and if possible click their photographs and send them to our researchers, who will match them with the data that was obtained by the camera trapping method.”
The IIT-B campus in Powai forms the southeastern edge of the city’s landscape and there have been intermittent reports of leopard sightings from the campus and areas around it. One such sighting took place just yesterday (see box). Ghoshal said, “The interactive programme organised at IIT-B received a good response from students and other attendees. We have given them dos and don’ts to remember during leopard sightings, which will help avoid conflict.”
Kadambari Devarajan, graduate student in the Wildlife, Biology and Conservation at the National Centre for Biological Sciences and Wildlife Conservation Society, will be conducting a preliminary study on the distribution and behavior of leopards sighted in the IIT Bombay campus. “We would appreciate the involvement and participation of campus residents in trying to mitigate human-leopard conflict in the campus.
Any reports of leopard sightings can be emailed to her with details of when and where they were spotted and by whom, and this could help form baseline data on distribution and movement of leopards on campus,” said biologist Vidya Athreya from the Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bangalore.