Lucknow, Feb 17 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh, for the first time, will have five leopard rescue centres located in Meerut, Chitrakoot, Etawah, Gorakhpur and Pilibhit districts.
At present, there is only one animal rescue centre and that too, for bears and elephants in Agra.
Animals rescued in the wild are sent to either Kanpur or Lucknow zoo. However, these zoos are already overcrowded and cannot accommodate all the rescued animals.
According to a senior forest official, “A decision was taken to set up the rescue centres in forest areas. The primary aim is to keep injured wildlife within their boundaries so that they can be safely released into the forests after undergoing treatment. Only those afflicted with permanent injuries and unable to hunt on their own, will be shifted to the zoos.”
Each leopard rescue centre will take care of an area within 100-km radius. A sum of Rs 5 crore has been earmarked for each centre.
The Meerut centre will be established in Hastinapur, bordering Bijnor district.
Rajesh Kumar, Meerut divisional forest officer (DFO), said, “Each centre will take care of rescue, treatment, storage of medicines, cages, etc. It will also have a residential facility for veterinary staff also.”
He further informed: “We suggested some structural changes and once they are approved, funding will be released by the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning (CAMPA).”
M. Semmaran, Bijnor DFO who has rescued more than 40 leopard cubs over the past three years, said, “A rescue centre is the need of the hour. We had sent a proposal for the same two years ago. Bijnor is known for a very large density of big cats and incidents of man-animal conflict are also high. A rescue centre will be a boon in the region.”
Incidents of man-animal conflict, particularly involving leopards, living in the cane fields, and villagers, in the Terai region have increased in recent times.
Every year more than a dozen abandoned leopard cubs are rescued in the Bijnor region alone during the cane harvesting season.