Barely two months ago, a flapshell turtle’s carapace, which got depressed when a tractor’s wheel rolled over it, was elevated with screws and a titanium plate while at another time the veterinary team at the transit treatment centre of Pingori’s Ela Habitat in Purandar tehsil (Pune district) worked diligently to perform an intraoral surgery on the venomous Indian spectacled cobra.
“There was a fracture inside the roof of the cobra’s mouth and it was bleeding when local farmers rescued and brought it to our centre. Using a mouth gag and placing the cobra inside a pipe with the tail end being held by the team, an X-ray was taken and the bony fragment that was jutting out was trimmed so that the sharp edges no longer hurt,” Dr Satish Pande, noted ornithologist and director of the Villoo C Poonawalla Hospital for Wildlife, which will be formally inaugurated on September 30, said. There was yet another case when a sluggish peacock was treated after a blood smear test detected a malarial parasite.
Maharashtra Forest Department and nature conservation NGO Ela Foundation have set up Villoo C Poonawalla Hospital for Wildlife at the Ela Habitat, Pingori, which has treated and rewilded at least 150 wild animals. The work done at this transit treatment centre was appreciated by Dr Cyrus S Poonawalla, chairman and managing director, Serum Institute of India, who provided a generous grant, a source said. A new building was constructed at Ela Habitat, which together with containment areas and cages, is spread over more than 10,000 square feet. The centre has been renamed Villoo C Poonawalla Hospital for Wildlife.
When contacted, Vivek Khandekar, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Pune, told indianexpress.com that transit treatment centres are often meant for treating wild animals suffering from injuries owing to natural causes or any assault.
“Majority of our wildlife exists in rural areas where there is a lack of state-of-the-art wildlife treatment facilities. Animals suffering from natural causes or traumatised due to road traffic accidents, or trapped in snares are rescued and admitted. Transport of sick wildlife to urban centres causes stress on animals and higher morbidity and hence timely health care in peripheral rural areas is needed,” Dr Pande, founder of Ela Foundation, said.
The veterinary hospital has the infrastructure to provide state-of-the-art diagnostic and medical care. The facilities include radiology and imaging, pathology, examination facility, operation theatre, nursing, sterilization unit, food preparation kitchen, quarantine recovery and treatment bay including squeeze cages, transfer cages, rehabilitation and re-wilding facility. Research is undertaken with surveillance for zoonotic diseases and the Wild Animal Anatomy Repository will be established for teaching purposes for veterinary and forest departments, a source said.
Need to encourage growth of vultures: Dr Cyrus Poonawalla
When contacted, Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman and managing director of the SII, told indianexpress.com via email that the idea was to encourage the growth of vultures as the Parsis need them for their religious burial purpose. “There are many Wildlife Conservation projects where the budgets are ridiculously high. However, the project put up by Dr Satish Pande looked practical and doable. Therefore, I have decided to support it. I hope it will do well and they are able to get more donors to develop the project further,” Dr Poonawalla said.