My Experience at the ‘Khairbari Leopard Rescue Center’
It was the year 2010. My parents planned a trip to the Forests of ‘Dooars’ during the month of October. I was very much excited about the trip because it was the first time I was going to visit a forest. Being a kid, I expected to see all the animals residing in the forest, but those notions were destroyed after the forest safaris, where I could only see some deers and two elephants. But I could not see any leopard or rhino. So, my father, after my prolonged nagging, decided to take me to Khairbari Leopard Rescue Center.
It seemed like a natural forest to me and not like any other rescue center with cages and confined spaces. I loved the place so much. We were given a battery car, which had the capability to accommodate 8 people. We were literally locked inside the car (most interesting part). And as we entered the rescue center, I concluded one thing – that the most beautiful thing about the place was the fact that it was a place where the leopards were roaming around freely and we were the ones, ‘caged’. The area was not less than any natural habitat. As the journey progressed, we saw that the forest area started getting denser. We were also given a guide, who said that the injured leopards are brought in here and proper treatment is provided after which they are released back in the forests. As a kid, I questioned, “But this is also a forest! Then why are the leopards taken to another forest, again? “. So, our guide said that it was like a hospital of the leopards and that – they try not to put them in the cages and make it a HOME away from their homes. I loved the concept so much. This is exactly how WildLife rescue centers in India should be. Some of them are really in a bad shape. During the safari, we saw two leopards. One of them, I had a chance to capture with the help of my camera, and of course with my father’s help (since, I was a kid, back then).
This is a rehabilitation center for tigers and leopards nestled in South Khairbari forest. One can visit the place either from Jaldapara or while approaching Jaldapara from Murti via Birpara. From Jaldapara Tourist Lodge (also known as Madarihat Tourist Lodge) of West Bengal Tourism, a drive of about 2kms will get you to the entrance of South Khairbari forest. From there you need to drive for another 12kms through dense forests. In 2005 when a ban was imposed on animal shows in circus, the forest officers seized some 11 tigers from Olympic Circus in Hoogly district. Those tigers were later brought here for rehabilitation. But those tigers have died of aging. This center was inaugurated on November 5, 2005 by then minister in-charge of forest. It was then named as ‘South Khairbari Circus Animal Rescue Centre‘. Nowadays the tigers that are wounded, or found unwell or seized from the smugglers, as well as leopards and their solitary cubs found in the tea gardens are brought into this center for rehabilitation. Since the animals are kept somewhat in natural habitat although in enclosures, it may not be always easy to spot them unless they are out in the open and visible.
I enjoyed the entire car ride, very much. I loved the forested rescue center a lot! I loved the concept of making the rehabilitation center a HOME and I would really recommend all of my friends and relatives to visit the place and to support it through small donations. Places like these are often ignored, but they play a very important role in Wild Life rehabilitation.
Hi! I am Pratyaee Bhattacharyya, a student of Shri Shikshayatan College. Presently, I am pursuing B.Sc Geography honours. Forests have always attracted me more than other landscapes. Wildlife photography has always been my favorite hobby. Also, I believe, Mother Nature has given us a lot and now, it’s our turn to return the favor. Through WildRoots, I hope to get the chances of returning the favor and also learn more about nature.