Eighteen-year-old female leopard Krishna, the oldest captive resident of Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) in Borivli, died at 2am on Sunday.
Veterinarians from the park said that she had been suffering from chest congestion and had sores on her body for the past five days. “SGNP regrets to inform that Krishna breathed her last and succumbed to old age. She had been undergoing treatment for local wounds, chest infection and had not been eating for the past two days,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinarian, SGNP. “She was critical and was not responding positively to treatment.”
This was the second death in over a month after the park lost 16-year-old male leopard, Ahmednagar, one of the oldest animals at the park, to old age. He too, had stopped eating for two days, following which his condition became critical.
Pathologists from the Bombay Veterinary College will conduct a post-mortem on Monday. Results will be disclosed on Wednesday.
The average lifespan of a leopard is 12 to 14 years.
After Krishna’s death, there are 14 leopards – seven female and seven male — now at SGNP’s leopard rescue centre, of which four – two male and two female – are over 15 years of age. “Once we know the exact cause of Krishna’s death, we will be conducting tests on other leopards that have come off age as a precautionary measure,” added Pethe. “However, they are currently fit, healthy and eating properly.”
Krishna was a three-month-old cub when she was brought to the park in 1999. She had been abandoned by her mother at a sugarcane field at Pen in Raigad.
Park officials were deeply saddened by the incident as she had spent most of her life at SGNP. “Krishna was very docile ever since we first brought her to the park. She never displayed any aggression to us (forest officers), animal keepers or even other leopards at the rescue centre. On the contrary, she could adjust very easily with other animals and we never had trouble feeding her, except during her last stages,” said Shailesh Deore, range forest officer, SGNP. “She has a special place in our hearts and will be terribly missed.”
What is next
Krishna’s body might be preserved through taxidermy
Forest officials are considering preserving Krishna’s skin through taxidermy since it is intact and there are no marks. However, they will take a call only after the post-mortem.
In 2014, after male leopard Raja, Krishna’s mate, died, she has been very lonely and nervous, said Shailesh Deore, range forest officer, SGNP. “She had a few health issues then with constant loose motion. Over time, as new leopards were brought to the park, she made friends and moved on,” said Deore. “Raja’s body was preserved through taxidermy and depending on the post mortem results, we might preserve Krishna’s body too, next to Raja.”