By Mrityunjay Bose
As part of a broader initiative to handle the crisis of leopard attacks on human beings in Mumbai, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) is training the personnel at police stations in its periphery in responding to different situations.
The SGNP is sandwiched between the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai and falls in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Spread over 103 sq km, the SGNP, which is popularly known as the Borivali National Park, is home to more than 22 leopards. It is the only national park in the world which is located inside a metropolitan region – and it is often referred to as the city forest and green lung of Mumbai.
Mumbai’s area is 603 sq km while that of the MMR is 4,355 sq km and a national park of 103 sq km is something unique. Over the last two decades, there has been incidents of leopard attacks and spottings in Borivali, Malad, Goregaon, Aarey Colony, Powai, Filmcity, Mulund, Thane among other places.
The SGNP and Mumbaikars for SGNP, an initiative of the Centre for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore, is keen that many more police stations are covered.
“We have started training the policemen and the response so far has been good. There are several police stations and police chowkies in the periphery of the park. We want to train more cops,” said Vidya Athreya of CWS, who is an expert on leopards. “The situation of man-animal conflict or interaction requires a set of skills to tackle. The basics are being taught to the policemen in neighbouring police stations,” she said.
Though the number of attacks have come down from the alarming levels of 2004, there is a cause for concern. Over the last two decades, there has been more than 50 deaths because of leopard attacks.