SGNP set for changes to enhance visitor experience

A new website, online ticketing facilities, and information about relatively unknown trails and tracks inside Mumbai's largest green space is what the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) management has planned for visitors this year. With these initiatives, all in their planning stages, the Maharashtra forest department is set to "increase the park's brand equity".

There are also plans to increase the number of counters at the entrance of the national park at Borivali to cater to large crowds during weekends.

Even security at the park is set for upgrade. The CCTV cameras at the entrance and exit points of the park will be replaced by high-resolution Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras. With this system, the park will keep a track of how long a four-wheeler was inside. A small entrance near Devipada area will also be under surveillance.

To improve monitoring, the forest department has completed the survey for setting up a 'trunking radio system' inside the park. This system would provide a private network for forest officials to communicate through walkie-talkies at the currently inaccessible places inside the park.

A booklet on tracks and trails inside the park, detailing the length of the trail, and whether the track is 'soft' or 'hard', will soon be available. A visitor will be able to easily identify the species of birds, wild flowers and butterflies he/she spots inside the park. The park authorities will begin documenting the flora and fauna here and come out with booklets with pictures, salient features and interesting facts. "Whosoever visits the park should know about the plants and animals that they see inside. We will provide a checklist of species through these booklets," said Vikas Gupta, chief conservator of forests, SGNP.

As part of the documentation initiative, a three-month survey of birds found inside the park will begin in January. Armed with binoculars and field guides, SGNP teams will conduct the survey with the help of bird experts and volunteers. "We want to update existing records. This survey is important to observe the trends in diversity, abundance and richness, which can be used to draw out conservation plans in future and for comparative analysis," added Gupta.

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