The Forest and Wildlife Department is gearing up to open the first animal hospice and palliative care unit for big cats in the State in Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary. The sanctuary is home to more than half the number of tigers present in the State. Forest Minister A. K. Saseendran will inaugurate the animal hospice and palliative care unit at Kuppadi near Sulthan Bathery at 11.30 a.m. on February 26. The unit has been set up on the premises of Vanalakshmi, an abandoned pepper plantation of the Forest Department near Pachadi in the Kurichiad forest range, at a cost of ₹1.12 crore. Captured big cats are often taken to the Thiruvanathaputram or Thrissur zoos for treatment but, releasing them into a different habitat after treatment was a serious issue for the wildlife managers. However, it is expected that the unit would help address those issues in the coming days. “The unit would function as a rehabilitation centre for major carnivores such as tigers and leopards with a facility to hold four animals at a time,” warden S. Narendra Babu told The Hindu. The project envisages treating the aged, injured or diseased animals after capturing them from the wild and they would either be rehabilitated in zoos or released into the wild after the treatment, depending on the condition of the animal health, Mr. Babu said. “The facilities such as four holding rooms attached with two squeezed cages at both the ends, the open area covered with chain-linked fence measuring 500sqm, storage rooms, drinking water facilities for the caged animals, separate office rooms for veterinary officials and Forest Department staff have been set up at the unit”, he said. “In case of emergency, the unit would be utilised for treating animals. A trench is also dug around the unit as a part of protection measures. Solar fencing will also be erected around the unit in the coming days,” he added. The Department has captured around 10 tigers, including a six-month-old tiger cub, a few days, from Wayanad in three years.
The animal hospice and palliative care unit for big cats near Pachadi in Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary.