Mumbai: SGNP officials to radio-collar three leopards

Feb 07, 2018, 13:05 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Officials at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), which has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, plan to radio-collar three spotted cats in the coming years

The leopard that caught a dog in Aarey Milk Colony recently
The leopard that caught a dog in Aarey Milk Colony recently

Officials at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), which has one of the highest densities of leopards in the world, plan to radio-collar three spotted cats in the coming years. According to Chief Conservator of Forests and SGNP director Anwar Ahmed, a meeting took place a few days ago where senior scientist Dr Bilal Habib from Wildlife Institute of India came to Mumbai and there was a discussion on radio-collaring three leopards. Assistant Principal Chief Conservator of Forests M K Rao, Dr Shailesh Pethe from SGNP's veterinary hospital and wildlife researcher Nikit Surve from Wildlife Conservation Society-India were present during the discussion.

Also read: Leopard count at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) rises to 41 but 50 per cent of old ones missing

"We wanted to get more details about the movement pattern of leopards, and hence, discussed the idea with Dr Habib a few days back. The process is in the initial stages… we are sure that the data we get after radio-collaring the animals will be really interesting," said Anwar. He added that at present the plan was to continue the ongoing camera-trapping exercise that Surve was conducting. "That too is bringing forward some very important findings and observations, which can be very useful during the radio-collaring process."

One of the three will be a leopard that stays on the fringes or periphery of SGNP and moves very close to human settlements without causing any problem. "There are many misconceptions in the minds of the people about leopards. We are confident that the radio-collaring study will clear those," said a forest official.

The never-ending Aarey debate
Even as the debate whether Aarey Milk Colony is a forested patch or not flares up from time to time, a study conducted by researcher Nikit Surve in Film City, Aarey, and IIT, Powai, areas photo-captured nine leopards in this landscape. For the first time, camera traps installed at Aarey were able to capture a picture of a leopard carrying a dog in its mouth. "While some leopards live in these areas, some just come in search of easy prey and return to SGNP," said Surve.

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