Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center: Caring for Aging Big Cats

The Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, located in Junnar, Pune district, Maharashtra, serves as a haven for numerous aging leopards rescued from various adversities. Jointly operated by the Maharashtra Forest Department and Wildlife SOS, this center currently accommodates 39 leopards, with nearly 60% of them receiving geriatric care.

Many of the leopards housed here were victims of human-leopard conflicts, targeted by poachers, or orphaned in the wild. Rescued from uncertain fates, these leopards have found a new lease on life under the compassionate care of Wildlife SOS and the Junnar Forest Division. They live in an environment that closely mimics their natural habitat, supplemented with veterinary attention, medical care, and nutritious diets.

Among the residents are Ganesh and Vitthal, two elderly male leopards facing unique challenges. Ganesh is completely blind, while Vitthal is missing a hind paw. Caring for such leopards requires special attention and effort from the sanctuary’s staff. Enrichments tailored to their needs, such as olfactory and food-based stimuli for Ganesh and specially designed platforms for Vitthal, are provided to enhance their well-being.

Leopards typically enter their later years around the age of 12, although this varies among species. During this phase, they commonly experience dental issues, joint problems, and changes in behavior and personality. Even under the care of Wildlife SOS and the Junnar Forest Division, the aging leopards undergo noticeable transformations.

Dr. Chandan Sawane, a Veterinary Officer at Wildlife SOS, explains the dental challenges faced by leopards, including broken teeth and tartar accumulation, which can affect their ability to eat properly and compromise their immunity. Regular dental check-ups are crucial to address these issues.

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, emphasizes the meticulous attention given to the medical care, diet, and health assessments of the elderly leopards, given that a significant portion of the residents are geriatric.

Amit Bhise, Assistant Conservator of Forests in Junnar, highlights the center’s role as a sanctuary for leopards unable to return to the wild, showcasing the collaborative efforts of the forest department and Wildlife SOS in ensuring these majestic animals live long and healthy lives.

Shruti Suman

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