After Bhim’s death, Athawale to adopt another leopard
A day after nine-year-old male leopard, Bhim died at Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) due to acute cardiac failure, Union minister Ramdas Athawale said he would like to adopt another leopard.
In May 2017, Athawale had adopted Bhim and paid for his upkeep at SGNP’s rescue centre, under the park’s adoption policy. The agreement was renewed in July. The leopard’s sudden death at SGNP’s rescue centre on Monday sparked outrage among members of the Republican Party of India (RPI), as they alleged proper upkeep of the animal was not taken. They claimed Athawale (RPI president) was not informed of the big cat’s condition in time. “We wanted to be there when the leopard was cremated,” said Athawale.
On Monday at 7.30am, Bhim died of acute cardiac failure at the park’s rescue centre. However, the cause of cardiac arrest is still unclear. While SGNP’s director and chief conservator of forest said that Bhim had been healthy over the weekend and the cardiac arrest was sudden, the park’s veterinarian said obesity may have caused the animal’s death since he was 10kg overweight.
RPI members held a protest outside the park’s main gate at Borivli on Tuesday, demanding an explanation from SGNP. “Authorities should have paid more attention to Bhim’s health. The animal’s weight had increased significantly and impacted his heart. It is a huge loss for us,” said Athawale. “We will now submit an application allowing us to adopt another leopard.” After Bhim’s death, there are nine leopards – six male and three female – at SGNP.
“Since almost all the leopards have already been adopted under our policy, we have to check whether any other leopard can be adopted by the minister,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP.