By Tashi Pradhan
Gangtok (Sikkim), May 21 : Many veterinarian doctors and medical experts in Sikkim are engaged in an endeavour for captive-breeding and prevent various animal species from facing extinction.
Recently, Sikkim Anti-Rabies and Animal Health programme (SARAH) in cooperation with the Sikkim Government's department of Animal Husbandry, saved the life of a Common Leopard through Caesarian operation.
It was for the first time that a C- section had been performed on an animal here.
Four-and-a-half-year-old Julie, the female Common Leopard, has been nursed back to health after a 22- day of intense medical care preceded by a complication during the delivery of her first pregnancy which ended in a still born.
Julie was brought to Sikkim from Gorumara National Park in West Bengal in June 2005. She was one-and-a-half-year-old at that time. But she had to undergo a Caesarean section last month after she failed to deliver normally. The foetus was, however, already become lifeless by then.
According to the Deputy Director of the Himalayan Zoological Park, Julie had mated on January 10 and after 102 days of gestation period, the leopard was noticed unable to deliver her cub.
"She was even given a shot of intra-muscular inducer to bring on the labour pain which usually works within 10 hours. After Julie's health started showing sign of instability, the official decided to deliver the cub inside through a C- section," said Dr. Madan Shankar, Deputy Director of the Himalayan Zoological Park.
The common leopard is an endangered species in Sikkim and one of zoo's main objectives is captive-breeding of such species by providing a suitable environment for the animals, similar to their natural habitat.
"We are focusing on captive breeding in order to increase the population of the endangered species and relocating them to their natural habitat" said Dr. Shankar.
On April 22, Julie was operated upon by Dr. Katherine and Dr. Stassy of SARAH assisted by Dr. Thinlay and Dr. Diki from Animal Husbandry Department who are also working with the Australian NGO. The first triangulated anesthesia was given by Dr. Shankar and Dr. Beth Mc Genniosken, the Project Manager of SARAH.
" This is a significant achievement for us as we managed to save Julie though we could not save her cub. However, there is no doubt that she can conceive again and give birth to a healthy offspring," said Dr. Beth Mc Genniosken.oint Director Forest (Zoo) department, Gut Lepcha, expressed his pleasure after the successful surgery and congratulated the team for their effort.
"The park has been designed in such a way that it is highly suitable for breeding of the Himalayan endangered mammals and birds and hope to save as many lives and species as we can, " he added.
On May 14, Julie was released back into her Sikkim Himalayan Zoological Park enclosure.
The leopard is most easily recognised by its rosette patterned coat and extremely long, darker tail. This large cat is sometimes confused in appearance with the South American Jaguar - the leopard though is less stocky and unlike the jaguar, its rosette markings are generally smaller and have no internal spots.