PUNE: The Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre at Katraj, also known as Katraj Animal Orphanage, has a task on its hand. Several clearances are necessary before re-introducing rescued animals back into the wild.
Once an animal is ready for release, the centre that was established over 30 years ago, has to seek approvals and the process can take up to months till the final release of the animal.
“We try to release the rescued animals as soon as possible back into the wild. But, when the animal is injured, the centre has to treat it first. When we have to release them, we need approvals from the PMC, the zoo and the forest department. The forest department takes the final call as to where the animal will be released and allots personnel to supervise the event. They also provide us with the funding for relocation,” Amit Khaire, the centre’s curator, said.
The release timeline depends on the extent of the animal’s injury and treatment. “The paperwork adds to the duration, because it goes through multiple stages of approval,” he said.
The curator said a list of animals that can be release is prepared, along with a fitness certificate issued by a veterinary doctor. “Once this is approved by the zoo, it is sent to the forest department. Their officials identify which area and range the animal can be released into,” he added.
Vivek Khandekar, chief conservator of forests (Pune circle), agreed that the whole process was circuitous. “They’re funded by the PMC, so they have to go through multiple stages of approval, starting with the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, the forest department, then back to the animal centre. We try to expedite it from our end,” he said.
There are challenges in relocating the animal back into the wild. Khandekar said it should be done as soon as possible. “The release should be with minimum contact with human beings. We generally try to release the animal wherever it was found or in a safe area, close to its natural habitat,” he added.
Khaire agreed that it was tough for the animal to re-adjust into the wild after its release. “If the animal is housed at the centre for long, it gets used to getting food and seeing people around. Light screens are installed at the enclosures, so animals can’t see outside activity. Human interaction is very limited.”