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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Mumbai: SGNP to radio collar five leopards in March, begin 2-year study

It will be a two-year project to understand how leopards use the landscape in and around the park. The study will help obtain scientific inputs for management of leopards.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
February 12, 2021 10:15:22 pm
Maharashtra leopardTo date, no leopard in and around SGNP has been radio-collared. In 2009, leopards from the Ahmednagar division were collared and one of them, Ajoba, was observed to have walked 125 km from the Malshej Ghats to Mumbai. (Representational)

The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) will carry out the delayed radio-collaring (GPS collar) of five leopards in March. In July 2020, the Union Environment Ministry had approved a proposal to study the movement of leopards in and around the SGNP by radio-collaring five of the big cats.

It will be a two-year project to understand how leopards use the landscape in and around the park. The study will help obtain scientific inputs for management of leopards.

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

Currently, the SGNP uses camera trapping to understand animals like leopards, who are known to be secretive by nature. The park has been using camera trapping since 2015.

First discussed in 2016, the Maharashtra forest department had approved the proposal by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), India for the two-year project in August 2019 and a memorandum of understanding was signed. But since leopards are a Schedule 1 species, approval from the Union Ministry was required.

The radio collars weigh 500 grams and are usually known to work for up to a year. The SGNP is waiting for some parts of the collar to arrive, after which it will begin the study this year, likely by March.

To date, no leopard in and around SGNP has been radio-collared. In 2009, leopards from the Ahmednagar division were collared and one of them, Ajoba, was observed to have walked 125 km from the Malshej Ghats to Mumbai.

The project is expected to cost more than Rs 60 lakh.

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