urban sprawl

urban sprawl

Living with leopards - A 'Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai' Experience

3d ago
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Description

Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is a protected area situated within the Mumbai metropolis, and with surrounding forests harbor over 35 leopards. This oasis is surrounded by massive urban sprawl supporting around 21000 people per square km, and leopard-human interactions are inevitable. In the past, these interactions ended up as conflicts, as people were unaware on proper ways to deal with them. However, since the beginning of this decade, a new initiative by the Maharashtra Forest Department called 'Mumbaikars for SGNP' is revolutionizing the way India deals with its leopards. The multi-dimensioned project carried out a) scientific research, b) built capacity of the Forest Department members and improved coordination between different divisions, c) developed constructive partnerships with different stakeholders including civic authorities, police, media, and d) held awareness sessions for general public at large. The project has seen successful outcomes. With the residents being sensitized by the project, no leopards have been captured in Mumbai since 2013. Likewise, no attacks on humans have been reported in the last two years in and around SGNP, as against up to 30 attacks a year between 2003 and 2005. -- Note: Most efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts in India are directed towards managing the animals. While such conflicts might never be eliminated completely, Mumbai experience shows that solutions are more effective when we reach out to people, help them lead safer lives by making them understand the issue.