Roar for Tigers

When big cats bear the brunt of human savagery

When big cats bear the brunt of human savagery

Jul 3, 2015

LUCKNOW: It was a sad day on Tuesday at the Lucknow Zoo. A 14-year-old leopard with grievous injuries, brought from Pilibhit recently, did not survive despite treatment. It’s left hind limb was badly injured, with its paw crushed. It had injuries on its head, neck and other limbs too. The leopard had reportedly attacked a woman after having strayed from the tiger reserve in the Mala range of Pilibhit. By the time it could be rescued and brought to the zoo on June 28, it was bleeding excessively, particularly from its wound. It had also stopped eating. The day it was rescued, it had slipped inside a hut and was hiding underneath a cot when a woman spotted it. It attacked and injured the woman that led to villagers attacking the animal. The leopard’s tale resonates among a number of such felines recuperating in the Lucknow zoo, nine others who have survived to tell their poignant tale of being attacked and brutally beaten during man-animal conflicts that are rising as leopard habitats shrink.

One of these, christened Guddi, was rescued from Gonda in 1997 with a severe head injury after falling into a borewell on being chased by a mob. Lucknow zoo has received several injured leopards in past. In most of the cases, it is the paw which is crushed. At present, it has nine leopards which were rescued from different parts of the state over different points of time. Each one of them have undergone prolong treatment at Lucknow zoo and now live in captivity. Seven of them are still undergoing treatment as all of them were rescued in injured state from the wild. Senior vet at Lucknow zoo, Dr Utkarsh Shukla, said, “I remember rescuing a leopard from Gonda where villagers had assaulted the eight-year old with sticks and axe. The animal was pelted with stones and that led to multiple injuries and acute blood loss. A stick was forced down its throat. Though we brought it to the zoo, the animal died within few hours of being rescued.” Forest officials who have been associated with Lucknow zoo as directors in the past recall leopards have been rescued in bad state. “Most of them have their paws broken or crushed. They get trapped in iron mesh set to catch them. In 2007, we saved a leopard but its paw could not be disentangled from the mesh. The paw had to be removed.”



Akbar, which was rescued from Allahabad in 2007 and christened Akbar Allahabadi, has lived at the Lucknow zoo for a long time. It gets agitated at every sight of a human. “It was kept away from people for long. The animal was under shock after it was attacked. It lost this violent streak only after it got paired with a female, Dia Mirzapuri, a leopardess rescued from Mirzapur,” said a former zoo official. In many instances, even before zoo’s rescue team could reach the spot, the agitated mob had killed the feline. In Siddharthnagar in 2005, a leopard was not only tortured with rods but also burnt alive after being locked inside a room. “The most common reaction of panic-stricken villagers is to not let the animal escape and beat it with rods. That leaves most of the leopards badly injured,” said conservationist Sanjay Narain. Leopards rescued from Corbett National Park in 1998 and 1999, Barabanki in 2000, Bilaspur in 2006 and Motipur in 2008 had all sustained serious head and limb injuries. Most of these big cats undergoing treatment at Lucknow zoo are housed away from the public glare. The animals rescued are under stress and that requires keeping them in quarantine. Also, injuries sustained by them often leave them unfit to survive in the wild.




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