Mumbai’s leopards to be radio-collared

Mumbai’s leopards to be radio-collared

A radio-collared Lakshai inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, in Mumbai.

In a major initiative to track the movement of Mumbai’s leopards, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Bengaluru-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has signed an MoU to initiate a two-year-long project for radio-collaring of leopards.

The aim is to gather scientific inputs in the management of leopards.

Sandwiched between the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai – spread over nearly 103 sqkm, the SGNP has a leopard population of 41 (adult leopards) – highest leopard density in the world.

“Given the space that the park has and the biodiversity that it supports, the maximum number of leopards that it can ideally support is 14 to 15. However, it’s a miracle that we have over 40 leopards,” said Anwar Ahmed, the chief conservator of forests and director of SGNP.

“For the first time, a leopard will be collared in this landscape. The work is also part of our mandate to have a science-based management of national park which is a very important asset to the people of Mumbai,” he said.

Veteran researcher Dr Vidya Athreya, who has studied leopard-human interaction in Mumbai extensively, said: “The study will provide very good information on urban carnivores.”

“The collars work by sending a signal to a satellite which obtains the time and the date the signal is sent from the collar and then this information is transmitted back to the researchers who can then go and investigate where the animal is and what it is doing. This will be of great importance to see how they are using this landscape,” said Vidya, who is also known for her initiatives like MumbaikarsforSGNP and Living with Leopards.

The main objective of the work will be to understand how the leopards use the landscape in and around the park.
Leopards, because of their highly secretive nature, are very hard to observe. Camera trapping and collaring are two tools that allow us to obtain a greater understanding of species like the leopard. 

Camera trapping activity has already commenced since the last three years and now we are happy to announce that we will also be initiating collaring studies in this landscape.

In 2009, leopards from Ahmednagar division were collared and one of them, Ajoba, walked 125 km from Malshej Ghats to Mumbai.  

A Marathi film, Ajoba, was made on this and actor Urmila Matondkar played the role of Vidya.

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