The odyssey begins

Gerard has contacted Tricia Holford of Born Free Foundation. In the beginning of September she replies:

"Doesn't Bhagya look gorgeous! I would love us to be able to rehome him to somewhere bigger and better. I have to say though, that even if he was never moved, he is in a much better set-up than many sanctuaries I know of. ... We are currently moving seven tigers from our sanctuary in Kent to a sanctuary at Bannerghatta Wildlife Park in India. This is a one-off move sanctioned by the Indian government and we will not be allowed to place any more cats there. They are currently homing some of many tigers and lions confiscated from circuses by a government crack-down on performing animals. ... We are currently trying to find a solution to the problem of a wild-born leopard in India, captured when adult, shut in a dark, dank out-house, barely able to see out."

By contrast, Bhagya enjoys his morning and evening walks. At first it is not so easy to put the new harness on. He has chewed up his old one to such an extent that Puran hasn't been able to walk him any more for a couple of days already.

But he is happy to leave the enclosure. He already dares to approach the little buffalo and tries to sniff at his tail. In the pasture he hides in the weeds, climbs the stack of rice-straw and watches his surroundings.

He strolls through the new banana plantation and discovers that mud is wet and slippery. He takes a small break to lick his paws and consents to having the leeches picked out of his fur, which naturally also suck on my feet. He enjoys rambling through the high grasses - luckily without meeting any snakes. Upon meeting the ox he makes for cover and bravely watches him approaching. When the curious ox comes too close he leap-frogs and dashes off.

When I call : "Come quick, come quick to have breakfast !", he rushes home, since minced meat with oat flakes and milk await him there.

In the meantime Urs Breitenmoser, Co-Chair of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group writes: "We will forward your request to some of our members who can possibly help. But I am not very hopeful to be able to offer you a customer. The CatSG is in official contact with zoos and breeding programs only in the context of preservation programs of endangered species and subspecies. This does not apply to Indian leopards."

Sally Walker replies: "We have the same problem in India with leopards. They are just not desirable animals due to their abundance in trouble ! I will send you some names of zoos in Bangladesh and Pakistan but you DO want the leopard to go to a good place, don't you ? Then these may not be so good. ... You can place the animal somewhere in the world, no doubt; but it would be better off dead. Really and truly."

back next