The rescue centre at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) lost seven leopards in the past one year, the Central Zoo Authority’s (CZA) Annual Inventory for this year has revealed. The numbers show more deaths of leopards in the zoo as only four leopards had died the previous year. The inventory records are from April 2017 to March 2018.
“All leopards, except one, died of old age in the past year. Six of them were in the age group of 16 to 19 years and most of them have been in the rescue centre for over 10 years. The average lifespan of a leopard is 12-14 years,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinarian, SGNP.
The other leopard was three-and-a-half-years-old and died within 36 hours of being rescued from a conflict in the wild. “The leopard was found at Malad, near a human settlement and she was not moving. Her ribs were broken in the conflict. We brought her to the rescue centre but she passed away,” Dr Pethe added.
The number of leopards in the centre has seen a decline over the past three years. While there were 17 leopards at the centre at the beginning of 2016-17, the number became 14 by the end of the fiscal. Now, there are 11 leopards at the centre, after the seven deaths and the acquisition of four animals.
“Less number of leopards are being captured now, as there is more awareness. Earlier, any leopard entering human territory would be captured. But with change in attitude of the public and the Forest Department, capturing of leopards has reduced,” Pethe added.
The centre got four new leopards in the past one year. While the one brought from Malad passed away, two cubs, Suraj and Tara, were brought from Ahmednagar in December and have shown healthy growth. The fourth leopard, three-and-a-half-year-old Regulus, was rescued from Aarey Colony after repeated reports of man-animal conflict.
The rescue centre and enclosures saw deaths of 18 animals in the past one year. Apart from the leopards, it lost five Chowsingha and six deer. It saw the birth of nine animals – seven Chowsingha and two Chital.
The Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo has lost 64 animals in the past one year, including 33 birds, 29 mammals and two reptiles. Among the animals that died last year were 12 Barking Deer, 10 Spotted Deer and a baby hippopotamus that died of Tetanus. In the previous year, the number stood at 77.
“Most animals here died due to old age, some may have died due to injuries or illnesses. The numbers also include the death of birds, which is a large number,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, director, Byculla zoo.
While the zoo has not acquired any new animals, it has witnessed the birth of 39 animals in the past one year. “No new animal has been purchased in the past 10 years. We are implementing a master plan and are now in the phase of putting up new enclosures. The current enclosures are from the British Era. According to the CZA norms, we cannot get new animals unless we have developed the enclosures,” said Dr Komal Raul, the veterinary officer at the zoo.
The zoo hopes to get tigers and lions this year. “Some of our enclosures are ready so, we will try to get tigers and lions this year,” Tripathi said.
Byculla zoo is home to 363 animals — 29 reptiles, 98 mammals and 236 birds. The SGNP zoo has 90 animals — five birds and 85 mammals.