The Patil Effect: Seven of nine SGNP leopards now adopted
Following ex-cricketer, three of his friends, Collector's family adopt big cats; 3 lions, 5 tigers await your TLC
After cricketer Sandeep Patil, Mumbai Suburban Collector IAS Milind Borikar's daughter, Vedangi Borikar, has adopted an eight-year-old blind captive leopard named Koyna. Three of Patil's friends, too, have adopted two leopards.
While seven of the nine leopards in Sanjay Gandhi National Park's (SGNP) captivity have already been adopted, three captive lions and five tigers are yet to be adopted.
In 2012, an around one-year-old female leopard was found in the sugarcane fields close to Koyna Wildlife Sanctuary. After harvesting the sugarcane crop, farmers burn the remaining plants to clear the field. It was in these sugarcane farms that they found the leopard, who was named Koyna.
Speaking to mid-day, Borikar said, "My family has always loved animals and wildlife. After visiting SGNP's Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, we wished to contribute in the wild animals' care. On December 1, when my daughter Vedangi turned 16, we adopted leopard Koyna under SGNP's animal adoption programme. We are happy to make whatever efforts possible for these majestic cats."
IAS Milind Borikar with his family and SGNP officials
Koyna was brought to SGNP where, after a medical examination, it was found that she was partially blind. She underwent a surgery which improved her vision slightly. Pankaj Malhotra, a friend of Patil's, adopted a seven-year-old leopard named Regulas, who was trapped in Film City a few years ago.
It was suspected that he was involved in incidents of man-animal conflict taking place in Aarey Milk Colony in 2017. Patil's second set of friends, Prasad Kapre and Prashant Karnik, together adopted a six-year-old male leopard named Dhule. Patil had adopted a female leopard in November this year.
Talking to mid-day, Vijay Barabde, Range Forest Officer of Tiger and Lion Safari and in-charge of the Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, said, "The good thing is that an increasing number of people are coming forward and enquiring about the adoption of wild animals in captivity. Recently, the blind female leopard Koyna was adopted Suburban District Collector Milind Borikar's family."
Currently, 17 big cats are up for adoption in SGNP. These include three lions named Ravindra, Gopa and Jespa and five tigers named Anand, Laxmi, Basanti, Mastani and Bijlee. Leopards seem to be people's preferred choice. The remaining two out of the nine are also expected to be adopted soon, SGNP officials told mid-day.
Jeet Athawale, son of Union Minister Ramdas Athawale, has adopted a one-year-old leopard cub named Surya. Actor Sumit Raghavan has also adopted a leopard named Atish who is in SGNP captivity.
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