13 Dec, 2019
A five-day exposure visit to facilitate knowledge exchange regarding best practices of mitigating Human Leopard Conflict was organised at Maharashtra from 9th -12th December 2019. The visit was organised jointly by GIZ, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), and Forest Departments of Uttarakhand and Maharashtra. The participants included 18 officers from Uttarakhand, officials from Maharashtra Forest Department. Technical Expert from GIZ, civil society volunteers, wildlife researchers, communication and media experts.
The first day of the exposure visit started with an overview of the terrain of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Mumbai and surrounding cityscape with the help of a 3D model. It was followed by a discussion on the park and challenges faced regarding human-leopard conflict by Mr Anwar Ahmed, Field Director, SGNP. Mr Sunil Limaye, APCCF(WL), Maharashtra Forest Department, interacted with the participants on tackling human-leopard conflict by engaging with various stakeholders such as researchers, journalists and, most importantly, citizens. This was followed by a session on research-based discussion, interactions of participants with the RRT team at the rescue centre, SGNP. The day ended with participants discussing the role of civil society and community awareness by interacting with local civil society group “Mumbaikars for SGNP”.
The second day started with participants a visit to the Waghoba (‘Leopard’ in Marathi) temple inside SGNP to understand how to engage local communities as a part of human wildlife conflict mitigation practices by the Maharashtra Forest Department. It was followed by a session by communication and media experts on role of media in shaping perceptions regarding human wildlife conflict.
On the last day, the participants interacted with the 140 local community Voluntary Protection Force personnel, established in 2016, comprising primarily of farmers, mechanics, local veterinarian and journalists at the Junnar Rescue Centre. The visit concluded with a feedback session, where the participants reflected on the key learnings from the visit and how they plan to implement them in their respective area.
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