The Assam State Zoo is having a problem of plenty, with more and more leopards captured from different parts of the city being added to the zoo in the past few years.
Today, another leopard which was captured at Birubari, Kalapahar, late last night, was sent to the zoo, taking the total number of captured leopards (from the city) to an incredible 18.
To tide over the crisis, the zoo authorities are now planning to exchange some of the leopards with different zoo animals in other States.
“The zoo has already exceeded its leopard-carrying capacity and this has become a headache for us. Maintaining 18 leopards under the existing arrangements is tough, and to overcome the problem, we are in touch with other zoo authorities for exchange of a few leopards with different wildlife,” Zoo DFO Chandan Bora told The Assam Tribune.
Bora revealed that the first exchange programme was likely to involve wildlife from the Manipur State Zoo.
Relocation is another probability that the zoo authorities are mulling but that would be a long-drawn affair, requiring proper appraisal of habitat, assessment of presence of other major predators such as tiger and other territorial leopards, presence of prey base, etc.
According to conservationists, it is risky to relocate leopards in forests away from its original habitat without making a critical assessment of the factors mentioned above. Any miscalculation can result in the death of the relocated animal in infighting with other territorial males. Besides, leopards avoid tigers as the latter would invariably kill a leopard in the event of a chance meeting.
Meanwhile, the leopard captured today at Birubari in the city joined its mate in the zoo which was caught in the same area only a few days back.
“It’s an adult female, and its partner was captured just a few days ago from the same forest. We have, however, found no presence of any cub or sub-adult leopard in the area,” Bora said.