Officials at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) at Borivli will use technology to track the movement of leopards within the park to handle the rising incidence of the wild cats straying into human habitats.
The year-long project, named ‘Mumbaikars for Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Leopards’ will start on September 1. The state’s forest department has allocated Rs4 lakh for the project, to be conducted by a 25-member team of wildlife scientists, experts and forest authorities.
“Understanding the animals’ movements will help us work towards mitigating this man-animal conflict,” said Sunil Limaye, director and conservator, SGNP. This year alone has seen seven cases of leopards straying into colonies around the periphery of the park in Malad, Goregaon, Mulund and Bhandup.
Six camera traps, connected to a global positioning system, are being installed at various locations of the 103 sq km park and near Aarey colony, Goregaon, as leopards have been found there.
The project will help identify if the same leopard is repeatedly crossing the park since the rosettes are unique to each leopard. It will also study the animal’s fitness, and analyse leopard scats (faeces) to understand its prey base. Officials said unfit or aging leopards were more likely to hunt easy prey such as dogs at the periphery rather than hunt natural prey such as deer.