Mumbai: SGNP loses its fourth leopard in 3 months

Yet another leopard died in Sanjay Gandhi National Park, chalking up the total to four leopard deaths in the past three months alone; the 14-year-old died on Wednesday after battling a bacterial infection for two months

Even as the year is drawing to a close, the losses suffered by Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) climbed a notch higher with the death of another leopard the fifth death in the past three months.

14-year-old Poman died on Wednesday night after battling an infection for close to two months
14-year-old Poman died on Wednesday night after battling an infection for close to two months

The Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at the park has been shrouded in sorrow since Wednesday, when 14-year-old Poman passed away after a bacterial infection. Poman, who was named after the village she was rescued from (near Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary), had been battling the infection for nearly two months.

In addition, she also had impaired vision after one of her eyes was injured when she was trapped almost 10 years ago. While she was known for her aggressive behaviour, officials were concerned when they observed that she had stopped eating in November.

They began treatment immediately, and Poman even seemed to be on the mend, until Wednesday. “Poman was not well for the past two months and we had even sent her blood sample for further examination. It was found that she was suffering from a bacterial infection that affected the kidneys, liver and the brain.

Our team and the doctors did their best to save her, but from Wednesday morning she stopped eating and she died in the night,” an SGNP official told mid-day, adding that the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Uttar Pradesh, found that Poman’s blood had tested positive for leptospira, a bacterial infection. Officials said that taxidermy would not be conducted in this case, as Poman’s remains are not suitable.

Cause for concern
>> Poman’s passing follows a series of deaths at SGNP since October
>> In the past three months alone, three other leopards and one lioness passed away
>> Their demise were mostly attributed to old age, however, the sudden spate of deaths raised concerns about the health of big cats in the park
>> With Poman’s death, there are now 14 leopards left at SGNP, out of which at least 10 are aged

Taking precautions
With the recent spate of illness and deaths at SGNP, experts are now keeping a close watch on the park. In the first week of December, the IVRI’s principal scientist, Dr AK Sharma, and Wildlife Institute of India’s PK Malik visited the Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and had asked SGNP authorities to send blood samples of all 15 leopards (including Poman) to check for infections.

The experts were satisfied with the hygiene in the leopard enclosures, but had asked the authorities to keep a tab on the quality of meat given to the cats, as that is one common source of infections. The experts had also asked SGNP officials to inform the caretakers to follow strict hygiene practices.

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