Leopard rescued from 15-ft deep septic tank in Kasara

Team comprising SGNP and Thane Forest Department officials performed the rescue operation that lasted for almost two hours in Kasara’s Dhobipada; the animal is currently being treated at SGNP’s leopard rescue centre

In a joint operation that lasted for almost two hours, a 3-year-old leopard was rescued yesterday evening from Dhobipada, Kasara, by a team comprising officials from Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and Thane Forest Department (FD).

The decision to release the leopard, currently undergoing treatment at the SGNP’s leopard rescue centre, back into the wild will be taken once it is fit
The decision to release the leopard, currently undergoing treatment at the SGNP’s leopard rescue centre, back into the wild will be taken once it is fit

The animal had fallen into a septic tank of an under-construction bungalow and is currently being treated at the SNGP’s leopard rescue centre. Speaking to mid-day, Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) for Thane, K P Singh, said, “I have asked my officers to immediately write to the grampanchayat, nagarparishad and neighbouring civic bodies to ensure that all open tanks, septic tanks and borewells in their jurisdiction are covered at the earliest so that such incidents can be avoided in the future.

A team of Thane FD and SGNP officials safely rescued the leopard on Wednesday evening. The operation lasted for almost two hours.” A rescue team was formed and reached the spot by 5.45 pm after both the SGNP
and Thane FD control rooms received calls about a trapped leopard around 4.30 pm.

“After reaching the spot, we discovered that a sub-adult female [leopard] had fallen into a 15-ft-deep septic tank. Since we didn’t want the animal to experience any trauma, we decided to tranquillise her. After the leopard was sedated, one of the rescuers entered the tank and safely brought the animal out,” said Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Santosh Saste, who was part of the rescue team.

The same feline?
Upon inspecting the animal, the team discovered that she had injured her tail grievously. But one of the rescuers stated that it looked like a week-old injury. The leopard was shifted to the rescue centre at the SGNP after a thorough inspection. Soon, a microchip will be installed in its tail and the decision to release the animal back into the wild will be taken once it is fit.

An official from Thane FD said it could be the same animal that had mistakenly entered a tribal hamlet around and preyed on a cat after entering a hut. “After entering the hut, a fight must have occurred between the leopard and its prey. This must have resulted in a tail injury, which the animal we rescued from the tank suffers from,” the official said.

Spreading awareness
Members of NGO Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare (RAWW) were also present during the rescue operation. Pawan Sharma from RAWW said, “We appeal to all the residents, builders and contractors in the area to take care of their properties and under-construction sites.

Such tanks, wells and containers must always be covered, as there are chances of animals falling into them and losing their lives if not rescued in time. Every animal may not be as fortunate like this feline. We are also writing to the FD to conduct awareness drives to highlight such incidents, which is an outcome of human error.”

The NGO has plans to conduct an awareness drive with the help of FD officials and teach locals dos and don’ts in case they find a trapped animal.

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