Over the past few months, unidentified persons have stolen 10 camera traps installed as part of the ‘Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park’ (SGNP) project at the Borivli national park.
These camera traps were used to assess the movement and behaviour of leopards. The camera traps costing Rs. 2,000 each were fitted with film rolls and have motion sensors to capture movement of the wild cats. Up till now, 20 camera traps were used during the project and have managed to capture over 100 images of more than 10 leopards.
Neither the park authorities nor the team working on the project have filed a police complaint to report the theft. “It’s nothing but an act of mischief by people roaming inside the park and it’s not such a serious matter,” said Sunil Limaye, director, SGNP.
“We have lost quite a bit of data with the theft of camera traps. The cameras have been really effective in mapping the movement of leopards. With their help we found out that at least five adult leopards were straying to the periphery of the park,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife scientist from Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS), who is partnering the forest department on the project.
Student volunteer Vishal Shah, who is part of the field team said, “Thankfully, the thefts happened when were winding up with the camera trapping project.”
From April 13, the ‘Mumbaikars for SGNP’ team will start the second leg of the project by collecting scat droppings of the spotted cat for DNA analysis. “Coupled with the findings of the camera traps, the DNA profiling will give us an estimate of the minimum population of leopards,” Limaye said.