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31 May, 2020

A leopard that had been the cause of much panic among residents of Machchhegaun village in Kirtipur in Kathmandu Valley has been safely rescued. Calls for rescue was alerted after a local poultry farm owner had suspected predator mischief, noticing the mysterious disappearance of some of his chickens. Thereupon he had prepared a home-made trap and managed to get hold of his intruder on May 28, around midnight, generally an active time when leopards prefer to prey into village settlements.

According to the chicken shed owner Mr. Hamal, "my first guess was that it would have been an ordinary wolf or a jackal instead, and not a leopard, but it is a relief anyway." Immediately Hamal contacted the local authorities, the division forest office in Kathmandu and the police. 

The rescue was made next morning with a team of four technicians dispatched from the NTNC-Central Zoo. In coordination with forest and national park officials, the team was able to swiftly and safely dart and anesthetize the leopard. "When we reached the scene there was considerable commotion, with an aggressive leopard attracting large crowds around it," shares Central Zoo's senior veterinary technician Mr. Radha Krishna Gharti, who commends the authorities and local community for maintaining control of the situation. 

The Common leopard is now safe at the NTNC-Central Zoo where it is being taken care of. "Thankfully it has not injured itself, which can often be the case when confronted in a mode of panic says," says Central Zoo Manager, Dr. Chiranjibi P. Pokheral. The rescued leopard is a male weighing 50.5 kilos. Once fully recovered, at an appropriate time, the plan is to release the leopard back into its natural habitat.

But with increasing urban expansion and wildlife habitat shrinkage, human-wildlife conflicts scenarios in Kathmandu Valley is only becoming a bigger problem by the day. During the past 60 days of lockdown in Nepal, the Central Zoo has already made 14 separate rescue cases around Kathmandu, three of which were leopard-related incidents. And only about a month ago there were multiple incidents about leopards being reportedly seen by locals around Tribhuvan University in Kirtipur.

Cases of conflict in-and-around the capital city, especially rising leopard incidents, has become cause for much worry in recent years. "That is the reason why, while we continually need to build our rescue capacity and reach, which today the zoo tries to make available 24x7, the point is to ensure that coexistence-building measures among conflict prone communities are increasingly harmonized, while continuing to protect natural habitats in Kathmandu Valley's periphery," says the Central Zoo Manager Dr. Pokharel.

Central Zoo
Human-Wildlife Conflict
Kathmandu Valley
Photo Credits
Birendra Sakya

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