Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This Sasan vet injects life into sick lions

| TNN |
Dr Solanki tranquillizing a lioness in Gir.Dr Solanki tranquillizing a lioness in Gir.
SASAN GIR: Dr DP Solanki had his heart in the mouth when an ill Asiatic lion he was trying to tranquilize suddenly charged at him last year. In a bid to escape the assault, he even suffered a fracture and was advised complete rest for three months.

This scary experience, however, did not deter this 28-year-old veterinary doctor of Sasan Rescue Centre. In fact, for the last five years, Dr Solanki has been the most crucial member of the forest teams in Sasan, which conduct nearly 300 operations of rescue ill or trapped wild animals every year. Often, Dr Solanki is seen venturing into farm wells, some that are nearly 80 feet deep, to rescue trapped animals, mostly wild ones.

While it is an amusing sight for villagers seeing him get into the well inside a 'parrot cage', the risk is always high.

"In 2013, we received a rescue call from Ghusiya village where a lion had fallen into an 80 feet deep well. We were unsure whether it was ill or injured. So, we first need to tranquilize him for physical examination.So, I sat inside the parrot cage that was pushed into the deep well slowly by the other staff. I fired one shot to tranquilize the lion," recalled Solanki.

"However, I soon started feeling severely out of breath but was pulled out in time by other members," he said. The lion was later released into the wild after inserting a micro chip in its body . "To my surprise and joy, I rescued the same lion in February near Devaliya,'' Solanki said.

Talking about the lion attack in Gir west, Solanki said, " As soon as I fired the tranquillizer at the lion, he got charged up and rushed to chase me. I fell down and suffered fracture," he said, adding it takes at least 15 minutes for the animals to get fully tranquillized.

Solanki is credited with having conducted at least 500 post-mortems of wild animals, mostly lions and leopards in the last five years, considered the highest in the country by a veterinary doctor. "Despite permanent risk of attacks or injuries during rescue operations, I love this job as it gives immense satisfaction of helping our wildlife flourish," Solanki said.

After working on ad hoc basis for one year in 2010 at Sasan, he left the job to take the Gujarat Public Service Commission (GPSC) examination for veterinary doctor.He was selected in the animal husbandry department but the forest department sought his service.

Ram Ratan Nalla, deputy conservator of forests, Sasan Gir, wildlife division, "Conducting over 500 postmortem is in itself a remarkable achievement for this young veterinary . It is not an easy job as the area of rescue is vast and the risk of working amid carnivoures. All rescue calls have to be responded promptly so that the wild animals don't die and get treatment in time."

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