More than half of those visiting the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Borivli have no idea about the varied plant and animal species in the park, or activities such as nature trails held within its premises.
These findings are part of a two-month survey of 3,500 visitors to SGNP between August and September on various aspects of the national park by St Xavier’s College. The study found that 60.55% people were unaware of the biodiversity and facilities such as the Nature Information Centre (NIC) that displays aspects of wildlife and forestry and the amphitheatre.
“The national park is one of the largest protected forests within Mumbai. Hence, it becomes all the more pertinent for those visiting the park to know of the biodiversity because it will help preserve the area,” said professor Avkash Jadhav.
However, 91% of the respondents wanted the park to be declared as a ‘no plastic zone’. Park officials have already started implementing the suggestions.
For instance, a ‘plastic litter free’ campaign has been initiated where those found throwing plastic items in the park will be fined anywhere between Rs 100 and Rs 500 depending on the quantity of litter.
About 40% people visited the park for recreation with family and friends, 19% to enjoy nature and 11% to walk up to the Kanheri Caves. Various suggestions have been submitted to the park authorities based on the findings of the survey.
The team has suggested that there can be weekly screening of documentaries on wildlife, reptiles, and plant life in the amphitheatre.
“Information on the timing of the documentaries as well nature trails organised by environmental groups can be displayed at the entrance of the park,” said Jadhav.
“On an average, visitors spend between two and six hours in the park. This time can be used to sensitise them through various outreach and awareness programmes.”
“The suggestions are practical. We have started allowing school students to visit NIC and will soon start screening documentaries as well,” said Sunil Limaye, director, SGNP.