Wildlife SOS has successfully released a Leopard into the wild after he was wrongly dubbed a â€œman eaterâ€ by the local population and the Forest Department was pressurised to trap him.
Captured towards the beginning of 2010 from a human habitation area in Junnar forest range in Maharashtra, Hanuman was brought to the Wildlife SOS Leopard Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Junnar where he spent about 9 months in captivity before a collective decision to release him back into the wild was taken.
Although there was no proof of any kill by him the public’s hue and cry left the local Forest Department with no choice. In the interest of the public as well as the animal the Forest Department had to go ahead and trap him. During the time he was in captivity he was closely monitored by our team in Junnar. Because of his size and strength he was named Hanuman at the centre. He was bigger than an average male and very strong. At the time of capture he broke the trap cage but luckily did not sustain any injury. He had no wound or injuries and was physically at his peak.
The observations stated in the report submitted by Dr. Ajay Deshmukh, the veterinary officer at the Leopard Centre, absolved Hanuman of the title of “man eater”. Dr. Deshmukh said “He showed no behavioural trait of a man eater and since there was no proof of any kills by him it was easy to approach the Forest Department with a proposal for his release. The PCCF, Junnar (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest) also agreed with our report and accepted our request and so a decision was taken and Hanuman was released back in the same forest range, the Junnar forest range from near which he was captured.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, co founder, Wildlife SOS said “The Forest Department personals are monitoring his movements since his release. We in close touch with the forest department and are ready to be of any assistance if needed. It’s been a month now and there has been no reports of any attack on humans or any other conflicts proving our report that he is not a man-eater. We deeply appreciate the support and co operation extended by the Forest Department which made this release possible.”