RRT Veterinarian Dr Maheshwari conducts a physical examination of the leopard following its successful tranquilisation
Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttar Pradesh, May 16, 2018: A sub-adult female leopard that was trapped in a room after accidentally injuring a man in the village of Gulra, Katerniaghat Range, was rescued and subsequently released back into the wild in Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) this afternoon. WTI’s Rapid Response Team (RRT), the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department (UPFD), members of two Primary Response Teams (PRTs), and local police personnel executed the operation.
On receiving a call from the Field Director of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve regarding the conflict situation, WTI’s RRT based out of Dudhwa National Park immediately headed towards Katerniaghat WLS. PRT members from Karikot and Rampurva Matehi villages in Katerniaghat Division also reached the location to assist in crowd control; they reported that in the skirmish a villager had sustained minor injuries at around 9.00am, after which the leopard had fled inside a house. The PRT members cordoned off the room in which the leopard had hidden to keep it from escaping and injuring itself or other people. A large crowd had gathered in the area by this time and the PRTs, the UPFD and the local police had a tough time holding people back to ensure the leopard’s safety till the RRT reached the location.
Crowd control is one of the most challenging aspects of executing a successful conflict mitigation operation
After reaching the spot, the RRT and PRT members quickly formulated a strategy to safely tranquilise the leopard. By afternoon, once all plans were in place, the leopard was successfully tranquilised through a small hole that was made in the brick wall of the room in which it was trapped. It then underwent a physical examination and was transported to the range office, where it was allowed to recover from sedation before its release into Katerniaghat WLS by late evening. WTI’s Prem Chandra Pandey (Project Head, Terai Tiger Project), Dr Reetika Maheshwari (Veterinarian), Karam Singh (Field Assistant) and PRT members (Subhash Singh, Virender Singh and Harikesh Chaubey) were part of the team that responded promptly to the situation and resolved it.
The Primary Response Team concept (a pioneering thrust area of the Terai Tiger Project) ensures community integration into Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) mitigation activities, through which local youth and villagers voluntarily opt to be part of a PRT. They are then trained to understand and handle conflict situations, primarily crowd control, and assist the RRT and UPFD in carrying out their operations. The RRTs and the PRTs are supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in this landscape.