Mumbai: SGNP leopards move into a bigger, better home

Close to four years after mid-day highlighted the severe space crunch at the leopard rescue centre in the national park, the authorities shifted the big cats to a brand new, roomier facility on Sunday

Nearly four years have passed since mid-day first revealed the plight of leopards housed at the Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where the cages were as small as 10 sq feet, and were several times used to hold two leopards simultaneously.

In the new enclosures, the leopards not only have more room to move around in, but they also have trees to climb, like in their natural habitat
In the new enclosures, the leopards not only have more room to move around in, but they also have trees to climb, like in their natural habitat

On Sunday, however, the national park authorities finally moved the leopards into a brand new, modern facility that is far roomier than the old centre.

In 2011, this paper had reported that due to a space crunch at the old leopard rescue centre, leopards were being kept in cages for long periods of time, and were at times forced to share cages as well, in a direct violation of the environment ministry’s Human-Leopard Conflict Management guidelines (‘Housing crunch for leopards too?’, May 19, 2011).

Taking serious note of the published report, the authorities prepared a plan to construct a new rescue and rehabilitation centre at SGNP with larger housing capacity and bigger cages, so that the leopards find enough space to roam around and exercise. This new centre, which was inaugurated yesterday, has 24 enclosures measuring 20 by 10 feet each.

All the enclosures have secondary cages attached, which are far larger and can be used for the leopards’ free movement and exercise. Male and female leopards have been housed separately in the new facility, said officials. “All the 14 leopards have been shifted to the new rescue centre, which was constructed at a cost of around Rs 1.5 crore,” said an SGNP official.

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