Within the picturesque landscapes of Maharashtra, the human-leopard conflict presents a complex challenge. Ideally, these magnificent creatures should be roaming freely in the wild, embracing their natural instincts and contributing to the delicate balance of their ecosystems. However, the reality is that human activities, such as deforestation, encroachment, and poaching, have disrupted their habitats and threatened their survival. The Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre (MLRC) plays a vital role in providing a refuge for these felines, where they receive specialised care tailored to their unique needs.
Today, we introduce you to five leopards that were rescued in the recent past and are now residing at our centre in Maharashtra. These regal felines offer a poignant reflection on the human-leopard conflict in the region.
Shera was estimated to be between 10 and 12 years old when he arrived at MLRC in 2021. He is one of the oldest inhabitants of the centre. Being a nimble and agile predator when he arrived, Shera now finds comfort in relaxing within his field owing to his advancing years. He has formed companionship with Bagheera, another rescued leopard, and the two can often be spotted lazing side by side. Shera’s favourite pastime is perching himself on a wooden platform, surveying his domain. As an elder leopard, Shera has lost all his canines, and is provided with specialised geriatric care. Shera was rescued from human-wildlife conflict, after which the Maharashtra Forest Department directed his long-term veterinary care to MLRC.
Badal was rescued from the premises of an automobile factory in the small town of Shirur in 2022. Being over 12 years of age, he carries the weight of his years with a sense of solitude. Badal is a shy leopard and prefers the tranquillity of his own company. The Hindi word badal means cloud, and this leopard mirrors the true essence of his name. When disturbed, his roar reverberates like the thunderous rumble of a cumulonimbus, reminding us of the grandeur and dignity this species possesses. However, Badal’s old age has left him with worn-out canines, broken molars and damaged incisors, which can impair his ability to consume food. Keeping this in mind, Badal is under geriatric care at the centre, along with Shera.
Raj, whose rescue in 2022 from the Shirur range marked his entry into MLRC, embodies the persona of a regal ruler. With his age estimated to be over 12 years, his majestic presence commands respect as he surveys his surroundings. Raj’s wary nature toward humans is reflected in the instinctual desire to maintain a safe distance from those who encroach upon his territory. During his leisure time, he takes delight in observing his lush surroundings from a vantage point. Raj was rescued under the radio-collaring project in Maharashtra. When he arrived at MLRC, he was a feeble leopard with self-inflicted injuries on his left forelimb and a skin disease. Although the leopard has recovered from his skin injury, his forelimb still needs long-term care. Raj is a sharp leopard, so much so that he can easily pick out the supplements from within the food provided to him!
True to his name, Surya, which translates to “sun” in English, radiates an aura of vibrancy at MLRC. Ever since he arrived at the centre from Shirur in 2022, Surya has been known for being an extremely alert leopard. Surya is approximately 10 years of age, and exemplifies resilience and charm. With an affinity for solitude, Surya dedicates hours to grooming himself. Like all felines, grooming is an inherent trait of leopards that keeps their coat clean to avoid flies and infection. Surya was also rescued from human-animal conflict, and his presence at the centre serves as a stark reminder of situations that threaten animals venturing close to human habitation.
Jay’s story stands as a testament to resilience and triumph over adversity. After a horrific automobile accident, Jay sought refuge in Chakan, Junnar, from where he was rescued in the year 2022. He was almost eight-years-old when he arrived at MLRC and has been a shy leopard ever since. Jay had sustained a fracture in his right forelimb that required surgical intervention. However, the severity of the injury eventually led to permanent lameness in Jay’s right forelimb. While Jay still keeps his distance from humans, he reminds us of the indomitable spirit of these animals, even in the face of profound challenges.
The presence of these leopards at the rescue centre also serves a larger purpose — raising awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and the need to coexist harmoniously with these apex predators to ensure ecological balance. Their stories evoke empathy and remind us of the enormous impact humans have on the natural world. The circumstances in which Shera, Badal, Raj and Surya and Jay were found serve as stark reminders of the dangers faced by leopards and other wildlife species across the region.
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