Wildbuzz | A big thank you from Mr Leopard
A male specimen of a young male leopard with long whiskers flaring upwards, canines curving down like glistening crescent moons and measuring about eight feet from nose to tip of tail has a lot to thank in life.
It now roams freely in the Dhar forest block of Pathankot due to an extraordinary joint rescue effort undertaken by teams from the Pathankot and Phillaur Wildlife Divisions on October 24.
It was the third lucky leopard rescued from a conflict situation in Punjab since 2017 and released into the wild rather than being sent to life imprisonment in the Chhatbir Zoo. Before the visionary policy change introduced in 2017 by the Chief Wildlife Custodian of the Punjab (CWW) Kuldip Kumar, the plight of the leopards rescued from the Punjab was that they were sent to the zoo where they were stuffed like sardines to satiate the leopards. annoyance of peeping visitors. .
Another handsome male leopard dramatically rescued from tony Sector 5 of Chandigarh during the Covid lockdown in April 2020 has also encountered similar positivity from UT’s wildlife department. The Sector 5 leopard was given a new lease of freedom when he was released in a remote area of the Morni Hills in Haryana. Free-roaming leopards are predators atop the region’s jungles. By removing them and imprisoning them in zoos under political and public pressure, not only is the jungle’s food chain disrupted, but it creates a void, which stray dogs fill to needlessly slaughter wildlife.
A free and wandering leopard exerts an influence of terror in the jungles and naturally keeps domestic dogs at bay.
“Our wildlife team undertook a very difficult operation to save Pathankot’s leopard and put his life and body in danger. I asked DFO Pathankot Rajesh Mahajan to have the rescued leopard examined by vets to see if it was injured. When he was found free from injuries, I ordered that he be rehabilitated in the wilderness. Why should we place healthy leopards in captivity? Punjab CWW RK Mishra told this writer.
The rescue and release of the Pathankot took 13.5 hours and took place over rough and rugged terrain, in unusual and adverse weather conditions. The leopard, which was trapped in a clutch wire device used by farmers to poach and protect crops from wildlife, was hidden in a dense bush 500m upstream from Dorang Koti village in Dhar Kalan bloc .
“Our staff volunteered to climb a tree next to the leopard to get a clear target for the tranquilizer gun. It was risky because we didn’t know how much the leopard had been immobilized by the trap. It was making blood-curdling growls. However, once the tranquilizer took effect, the leopard slipped into the ravine which was so steep that its angle was almost 80 degrees. Two of our staff then put ropes around their waists and were lowered like climbers to bring the partially unconscious leopard back to safety, as it could have plunged into the ravine to its death, ”Mahajan told this writer.
“Due to bad weather we had to use flashlights in the late afternoon as visibility was poor due to a sun failure. Once the tranquilized leopard was safe in the cage, all hell broke loose with cold rain and a hailstorm making our movement very difficult. The cold made the iron bars of the cage so icy that we had difficulty grabbing the cage and returning it to the transport vehicle waiting below. We were finally able to find shelter after a twisty hail ride on rough and rugged roads and examine the leopard. We released the leopard in the middle of the night at 12:30 a.m. even as the bad weather beat our tired bodies. In the adrenaline-charged operation, we had neither eaten nor drunk water, we were soaked to the skin in a cold rain. We didn’t even have a moment to waste to relieve our burst bladders! But the effort was worth it when we saw the leopard leap to freedom, ”added Mahajan, for whom it was the seventh leopard rescue of his career.