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Mumbai, May 2 – Wildlife lover and Union Minister of State Ramdas Athawale adopted a five-year-old leopard at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, here on Tuesday.
The “adoption” for the fifth time, was completed after the Minister’s son Jeet Athawale handed over a cheque of Rs 1.20 lakh to the SGNP’s Conservator of Forests & Director S. Mallikarjuna.
Athawale – President of Republican Party of India (A) – and his wife Seema, were given a certificate for the adoption of the leopard (Panthera Pardus) that took place under the SGNP’s Wild Animal Adoption Scheme.
“The Minister is himself like a panther, which is the symbol of the Dalit Panthers groups… He loves nature and wildlife and this is his contribution to save the environment and wildlife,” said an aide.
Leopards play an important role in maintaining the balance in the nature’s food-chain and the overall environment of its habitats.
Named Simba, it was also the leopard’s fifth birthday that was celebrated with a cake cutting ceremony and reciting the Buddha Vandana at the adoption ceremony.
The SGNP in Borivali east suburb is sprawled across around 105 sq kms spanning Mumbai and Thane districts and is home to a huge variety of flora and fauna.
These include mammals, birds, butterflies, amphibians, snakes, over five dozen leopards roaming in the wilderness surrounded by the concrete jungle, a toy-train, and lion and a tiger safari, besides the famed and estimated 2000-year-old Kanheri Caves complex.