Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: The Park is rich in flora and fauna. Nearly 300 species of birds have been identified, including some threatened ones. The rich avifauna of the Park includes Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus, Pallas’s Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica, Drongo-cuckoo Surniculus lugubris, Malabar Trogon Harpactes fasciatus, Oriental Dwarf or Three-toed Kingfisher Ceyx erythacus, and Crimson or Yellow-backed Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja. The site lies in the Western Ghats Endemic Bird Area (EBA 123) where Stattersfield et al. (1998) have identified 16 restricted range species. Only one has been found here till now. This IBA also falls in Biome-10 (Indian Peninsular Tropical Moist Forest) as defined by BirdLife International (undated). Fifteen species are considered representative of this biome, out of which four have been found here. As the Park is surrounded by Mumbai and Thane on southern side and very disturbed forests all around it, many species of Biome-11 (Indo-Malayan Tropical Dry Zone) are found here. BirdLife International (undated) has listed 59 species in this biome that are found in India. This IBA and its surrounding areas have 26 species. Most of these species are common and widespread. A variety of aquatic birds, both residents and winter visitors, frequent the mangroves along the Bassein Creek and the marshy margins of Vihar Lake (Monga 2000).
OTHER KEY FAUNA: The faunal diversity of the Park includes 59 species of mammals, 155 species of butterflies, 24 species of ants, 52 species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and 30 species of fishes. Marsh Crocodile Crocodylus palustris has been reintroduced into Tulsi and Vihar Lakes. Leopard Panthera pardus is the largest carnivore, with a healthy population of about 40 individuals – perhaps the highest natural leopard density in the world, within a metropolis. These leopards mainly subsist on stray dogs, Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus, Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta, Wild Boar Sus scrofa, Chital Axis axis, Sambar Cervus unicolor, Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak and Four-horned Antelope Tetracerus quadricornis. Indian Chevrotain or Mouse Deer Moschiola meminna is not uncommon, but rarely seen due to its secretive nature. In May-June 2003, a Tiger was seen in Tungareshwar WLS.
Some of the important species of reptiles reported from this IBA are the introduced Crocodile, Pond Terrapin Melanochelys trijuga, Deccan Banded Gecko Geckoella dekkanensis, and the Spotted Forest Gecko G. collegalensis.
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park is surrounded by Mumbai and Thane districts. Encroachment of slum colonies into the Park, smuggling of timber, firewood collection, poaching, other anti-social activites and human-animal conflicts are growing rapidly. Frequent human-animal conflict clearly indicates the increasing pressure of these negative anthropogenic activities on the natural habitat of wild animals. Mahashivaratri, a festival venerating Lord Shiva, is celebrated in February or early March, and it completely changes the face of the National Park. More than 2,00,000 people throng the Park on their way to the Kanheri Caves and Gomukh temple. In recent years, considerable stretches of the forest area have been swamped by garbage or damaged by fire (Monga 2000). A water purification plant, stone quarry and the Film City within the Park are also major concerns. A herd of about 500 feral cattle graze in the Park. Villagers, especially tribals, cultivate the park land and depend on the forest for their livelihood. Tungareshwar also suffers from many biotic pressures. Illegal expansion of roads and diversion of natural streams has disturbed this Sanctuary. A cart tract as shown in forest topographical sheets has been illegally converted into a 20 m wide road that provides vehicular access to the public. Another road from Parol to Sadanand-Baba Ashram, once a pristine forest, has been converted into 10 m wide road and is another blatant example of violation of the Indian Forest Conservation Act. After lobbying by BNHS, the Government of Maharashtra declared 8,570 ha as Wildlife Sanctuary in November 2003. Hopefully, the sanctuary status would, to some extent help in curtailing the illegal activities. Considering it as a recreational area coupled with temple and ashram, the sanctuary is facing an ongoing threat due to large number of tourists, who often carry plastic and other non-biodegradable material, and are also responsible for forest fire. In order to ensure long-term viability of Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, it is extremely important to protect the reserve forests lying between them.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 08/08/2022.