Likan, a leopard died in the mini-zoo (deer park) of Sambalpur on Saturday at the age of 15 years.The zoo authorities said the wildcat died of old age after being ill for a few days.Wildlife enthusiasts, however, have complained that the zoo authorities did not provide a female partner to the wildcat and forced him to lead a life of celibacy till death.
“The zoo authority has clearly violated animal rights by holding a wildcat captive for long 15 years without providing a partner,” wildlife enthusiast Khirod Prasad Mishra of Sambalpur said.He said the wildlife authorities should order a probe to find out why Likan had been kept alone in violation of Indian wildlife protection laws.
Sources said section 38H of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 said no animal will be kept without a mate for a period exceeding one year unless there is a legitimate reason. In the event of a zoo failing to find a mate for an animal, the animal shall be shifted to some other place.
DFO (wildlife) of Hirakud Sudeep Nayak said the leopard had died of old age and the zoo authorities had cremated the animal’s body inside the zoo premises.He confessed to the violation of the wildlife rule by keeping the animal alone. “We did not move the leopard to another place because of the locals’ love for the animal. We did try to find him a female partner,” said Nayak.
However, he said that since he was new to the division, he could not say why the matter was not pursued more vigorously.Sources said, Nikon was rescued by than DFO (wildlife) Suresh Chandra Mishra from the clutches of a poacher and raised by him and his wife for about six months and it was the couple who gave a name to the big cat.
He was later shifted to the deer park of Sambalpur on 15th August 2000 and the country’s Independence Day was turned out to be the beginning of the caged-life of the leopard. Since then it was leading a lonely life in Deer park of Sambalpur.