Green hope

Updated: Jan 03, 2019, 15:52 IST | Snigdha Hasan | Mumbai

A panel of conservationists and environmental activists will discuss challenges wildlife faces in urban India

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is often in the news for man-animal conflict
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is often in the news for man-animal conflict

When a leopard is killed in human-animal conflict in Borivali's Sanjay Gandhi National Park, what impact could it possibly have on a Dadar resident? The problem with this question, as is the problem with the way we look at the environment, is that of isolation.

"It's not the leopard but the forest it lives in that needs to be understood and appreciated," explains environmental activist and founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, Bittu Sahgal. Large carnivore biologist and president of the Wildlife Conservation Trust Dr Anish Andheria concurs. "The leopard is an indicator species. A threat to its survival points to something being wrong with the forest. And what does that have to do with the people of Mumbai? Well, you can't possibly work in a swanky BKC building that runs on tanker-supplied water. The city needs fresh water, which comes from its lakes — all located in the forests," he says.

Bittu Sahgal; (right) Dr Anish Andheria
Bittu Sahgal; (right) Dr Anish Andheria

The impact of human action on nature, the importance of biodiversity in cities, and the avenues through which urban residents can aid animal life are some of the issues that Sahgal and Andheria will talk about this evening. They will be in a panel discussion with wildlife conservationist and co-founder of Wildlife SOS Kartick Satyanarayan, and tiger conservationist, social activist and founder trustee of PROWL Hans Dalal. The discussion, Multipolis Mumbai: Wildlife and the City, has been organised by NGMA Mumbai, Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and Avid Learning.

Dr Andheria points out that though the annual municipal budget of Mumbai exceeds that of smaller Indian states, the city isn't the frontrunner in preserving its natural resources. "What does good quality of life mean? A road that runs through the sea or better means of mass transport?" he asks.

While human-animal conflict cannot be eliminated, Sahgal explains that it has been exacerbated "because human greed and arrogance have given us the impression that we can grow exponentially indefinitely, into the spaces that belonged to nature. We need to adjust and retreat a bit."

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