Wildlife SOS held a one day training workshop for a group of final year students from Nagpur Veterinary College at the Manekdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar, Maharashtra.
Keeping in mind, the current paucity of veterinarians specializing in wild animals, Wildlife SOS aims to train the new generations of veterinarians in this aspect of dealing with and being able to treat animals in the wild to help in the cause of conservation and protection of India’s endangered wildlife. In most veterinary colleges in India, there is unfortunately no separate course or practical for wildlife, which is why it became imperative for us to take this initiative. Our senior veterinary officer, Dr. Ajay Deshmukh, who is an alumni of Nagpur Veterinary College himself, undertook this training session with the interested students and acquainted them with the various aspects of leopard physiology and behavior and their rescue and rehabilitation.
Dr. Deshmukh taught the aspiring veterinarians the various issues to be kept in mind during the rescue of a leopard. This began with the precise set of observations to be made during different kinds of rescues which would help assess the health and stress level of the concerned animal. He also taught them how to use blow pipes and syringe darts and discussed the different dose rates of anesthesia to be used in different rescue situations. Apart from this the students were given lessons in de-stressing animals brought in cages after rescue so that no further health complications occur. The students were made aware of the different steps to be taken during rescue and release operations and the things to be kept in mind if the animal has to be rehabilitated and kept under lifetime care.
The students took great interest in the session and asked various interesting questions to Dr. Deshmukh. The students were curious about what drugs are to be used in cases of emergency and how different rescue teams are composed. They asked about what observations are to be made about animals trapped in houses or wells. Some students wanted to know about the management and care of animals who have been rehabilitated at the center and had queries related to the common diseases in leopards, their de-worming, the nature and frequency of their feeding, the use of enrichments. Dr. Deshmukh addressed all the questions in great detail and took the students to visit the leopard enclosures to have a closer look.
At the enclosures, the students were informed for the nature and area of the standard enclosures for leopards, the various kinds of enrichment’s constructed, the importance of ventilation in the enclosure and more. They were also shown the treatment enclosure and were made aware about their management. The students learned about the method of feeding leopards through the means of sliding doors. Apart from this they witnessed how leopards with similar temperament were kept in close vicinity and made to interact so that they bond, which helps in reducing stress levels.
It was an enriching and enlightening experience for the students who aspire to work in the field of wildlife conservation and rehabilitation. We too plan and hope to train many such gifted and noble minded students in future which will help the cause of protection India’s priceless wildlife.