State set to augment wildlife rehab

Kerala is set to augment its wildlife rehabilitation capabilities by establishing a dedicated facility to treat injured and nurture orphaned big cats and other large carnivores that are rescued from the wild.

The Forest Department has accorded in-principle approval to a proposal to establish a rescue and rehabilitation centre in Thrissur on the lines of the existing one in Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Mysuru that treats tigers, leopards, sloth bears, wild dogs and other animals.

The move is spurred by frequent incursions by injured wild animals into human habitations, particularly in parts of Wayanad. Such situations have often prompted forest officials to shift animals to far-off places for treatment. It was only a month ago that a 10-year-old tigress was transferred to the Neyyar Lion Safari Park where it is currently being treated.

The department has currently set its sights on establishing the proposed facility adjacent to the Puthur Zoological Park. Envisaged to house 16 large carnivores at a time, the centre will treat animals until they can be released back into the wild and rehabilitate those that are permanently disabled.

The location of the facility will enable the department to enlist the services of veterinarians attached to the zoological park. While it will be off-limits for visitors, the proposed centre is likely to meet its expenditure using the revenue generated by the zoological park. A time frame is yet to be finalised for realising the project.

Taking cue from other States, the facility can also be utilised to rear orphaned or abandoned cubs rescued from various parts. Two three-week-old tiger cubs that were rescued in the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Nilgiris were recently shifted to the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Chennai for specialised neo-natal care.

The State currently has a rescue and rehabilitation centre for captive and wild elephants at Kottoor in Thiruvananthapuram.

According to official sources, the work on an animal hospice that will be attached to the veterinary care unit in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary will soon get underway. The facility that will enable short-term treatment for up to three animals at a time will be commissioned this fiscal.

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