Digital weighing scale, CCTVs to help track health of leopards at Mumbai’s Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Veterinarians at the park said this feature was much neededmumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2017 01:08 IST
A digital weighing scale and round-the-clock CCTV surveillance will help track the health of leopards faster and in a much smoother manner at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP).
SGNP officials told HT that this is the first national park in the state to have the digital scale, and even zoological parks in Maharashtra do not have such an amenity. However, similar weighing scales have been installed at the Delhi and Hyderabad zoos.
The move was aimed at improving medical treatment by modifying an existing cage for leopards at the park’s rescue centre, which is home to 13 leopards – seven male and six female, said officials. “The same will be introduced for the tigers and lions at their respective safari enclosures in coming months,” said Anwar Ahmed, chief conservator of forest, SGNP. “Medicines are administered to leopards on the basis of their weight. Prior to this, the only option was to tranquilise the animal and then weigh it, which can even lead to their death if the animal is sick. Now this contraption designed by us will help avoid tranqulisation and ensure speedy treatment.”
He added that 13 CCTV cameras have been installed at all cages at the leopard rescue centre and a three each at the tiger and lion safari enclosures. There are six Royal Bengal tigers and three lions at the park. “This facility will help us monitor the health of these big cats 24X7, and even if they suddenly fall sick, we can backtrack using the footage to understand how their health deteriorated,” said Ahmed.
SGNP range forest officer Shailesh Deore, who designed the 8ftX7.5ft modified cage which is slightly larger than the already existing 6ftX6ft enclosures will give the medical team the access from all sides to treat the animal.
“The cage is made in such a way that as soon as the animal steps into it, the digital display outside the cage will reflect its weight,” he said adding that shrubs, palatable grasses and medicinal plants such as lemongrass, spear grass, basil, dhub, bhama, durva and bermuda grasses have been planted within all enclosures to help leopards with their digestion.
Veterinarians at the park said this feature was much needed at the park. “We have always had trouble administering treatment to big cats without getting their exact weight. It will be now be feasible to weigh the animal, get closer access to wounds, before giving them anesthesia and other medicines thanks to efforts by our SGNP director and other officers,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinarian, SGNP.
Experts said it was a significant move as most of the leopards at the park are old. The average lifespan of a leopard is 12 to 14 years. “Maharashtra has some the best leopard rescue centres in the country and SGNP’s centre has the best facilities,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist.