The death of two leopards and a lioness within a fortnight at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Borivli, has forced authorities to arrange for better medical attention and facilities for the big cats. Park officials have roped in six senior veterinary doctors to monitor the 16 leopards at the rescue centre every month and introduce changes in their diet.
Twelve of the 16 leopards are old – above 11 years of age. Apart from Simba, the one-and-a-half-year-old leopard who died from a nerve disorder in June, the other animals died owing to age-related ailments, the park’s chief veterinary officer said.
The team of doctors will also keep a watch on the nine tigers and three lions at the park.
“Three deaths in a fortnight got us worried. We wanted to be sure if they had common symptoms or an infectious disease. A leopard in captivity has a life span of 15-18 years and the ones who died were of that age. But we don’t want to take chances,” said Vikas Gupta, director, SGNP.
Diet enrichment for obese leopards, collecting blood and urine samples, improving their natural instincts for smell, studying digestion are some of the key things the SGNP veterinarian and expert panel will focus on. The ageing leopards will also be moved into the park’s new leopard rescue centre soon, which will allow animals more space. The enclosures will be installed with cages with flexible walls.
“Observation of minor things such as the leopards’ digestion, their breathing and its gait can tell us if the animal has a medical problem,” said Dr Yuvraj Kaginkar, veterinary consultant to the SGNP from Myvets charitable trust.
According to Sanjay Pinjarkar, chief veterinary officer, SGNP, the two elderly white tigers – Siddharth and Rebecca – are facing some nutritional deficiencies.“We are giving them vitamin and calcium doses. They are 19 – in human terms, almost 100 years old,” said Dr Pinjarkar.