A leopard at Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) being fitted with a radio collar.(HT PHOTO)
A leopard at Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) being fitted with a radio collar.(HT PHOTO)

After Savitri, Maharaj becomes second leopard at SGNP to get radio collar

  • The exercise is part of the first phase of leopard radio-collaring work being carried out at SGNP to track and understand the animal’s movement
By Priyanka Sahoo
PUBLISHED ON FEB 23, 2021 07:49 PM IST

A six-year-old male leopard at Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) was radio-collared and released into the wild on Monday, two days after a female of the species became the first to be fitted with such a collar, park authorities said Tuesday.

This is a part of the first phase of leopard radio-collaring work being carried out at SGNP to track and understand the animal’s movement, said park Director G Mallikarjuna. A total of five leopards will be radio-collared in the first phase.

The leopard that was radio-collared on Monday has been named Maharaj after Chhatrapati Shivaji. Earlier on Saturday, Savitri became the first leopard in Mumbai to be radio-collared, named after the social reformer and educationist Savitribai Phule.

The two-year-long project to radio-collar leopards was initiated in 2018 when the park authorities signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Wildlife Conservation Society – India (WCS). The Maharashtra government gave its nod in August 2019 following which the two-year project was to be completed in 2021. But with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no movement on this front last year. The work finally began last week.

“We are hoping that this activity will help us understand leopards better,” said Mallikarjuna.

The collars work by sending a signal to a satellite, which obtains the time and date of the signal sent from the collar and this information is transmitted back to the researchers who can go and investigate where the animal is and what it is doing.

The key features of this project are to obtain knowledge on how humans and leopards interact with each other and how they adapt to the presence of each other. This will also help obtain information on how leopards move across the major roads such as the Ghodbunder road, understand their use of space and time in the SGNP landscape, and provide management recommendation with respect to the way they move in the landscape and conflict mitigation based on the results of the study.

Dr. Vidya Athreya from WCS, said, “This project at SGNP will give us more insights because in Mumbai a high density of people live in such close proximity to big cats. It will also help us track their pathway and understand how they cross busy roads such as the Ghodbunder Road. This will then help us manage them better to bring down mortality.”

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