Sunday, January 31, 2010

India: Leopard cub doesn’t make it, pneumonia ‘official’ cause

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Paritosh Kimothi - Dehradun

The one-year-old leopard cub rescued from the residential area besides Kaulagarh Road on Friday died later during the night. According to the post mortem examination report, the cause of the feline’s death was pneumonia.

However, observers state that chances of survival of the cub were poor as at the time of its rescue, the unruly mob threw stones at it that traumatised the already-unwell feline.

It is pertinent to mention that while Union Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh during his visit to Dehradun in the recent past proposed the establishment of the Forest and Environment Ministry headquarters in Dehradun, the approach of authorities in tackling incidents of conflict between humans and leopards in Dehradun has raised questions about the seriousness of the State Government towards facilitating the welfare of forests and environment.

In the latest incident, a leopard cub thought to have been separated from its mother was sighted in a residential area adjoining Kaulagarh on Friday morning. Forest department and police personnel reached the site in the afternoon by which time a large crowd of curious locals and people passing by had been gathering around the cub for hours, some people throwing stones at the feline. According to the Dehradun Divisional Forest Officer Meenakshi Joshi, the lack of crowd control at the site was a major reason for the delay in rescuing the cub.

The Forest Department follows a sectoral approach wherein it is responsible for the wildlife in forest areas but when wild animals enter wooded patches in urban areas like Kaulagarh, rescuing such animals requires coordinated effort of the department with police and emergency services.

In an ideal rescue situation the fire brigade and ambulance should also be present on the site of rescue along with police and forest department personnel in order to ensure successful rescue of the animal while preventing harm to the rescuers and public. Even if the department personnel capture a feline in a net a mechanical crane would be required to lift the animal to a transport vehicle as the claws and fangs of the feline can cause injuries to humans carrying it in the net.

According to the DFO the recent incidents of human leopard conflict in Dehradun District have exposed problems experienced while tackling such situations due to anomalies in human and other resources of the department, coordination among the department, police, administration and other authorities concerned. In the case of the leopard cub rescued from the residential area along Kaulagarh Road, the rescue attempt by department personnel was delayed due to public disorder resulting from lack of crowd control on the site.

The half-a-dozen department personnel who reached the site to rescue the leopard were unable to do so as swiftly as intended because the few policemen at the site were unable to effectively control the crowd of uninvited audiences which also caused substantial trauma to the feline which was already unwell. According to the post mortem examination report of the cub the feline died due to pneumonia.


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