After prolonged deliberations, a proposal for a leopard safari at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) is taking shape. The BBP invited tenders for the same last week. The work on the safari gained momentum after it was approved by the governing council of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka in February. Sanjay Bijjur, director, BBP, said tenders have been invited for creating the boundary, chain link fence, elephant barricade and compound wall in the demarcated area. The project costs Rs 5 crore. The safari will come up near the lion and bear safaris on a 20-acre area. The proposal was cleared by the Public Works Department and the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) in 2016. Then, Rs 6 crore was sanctioned for the safari, but the amount was not utilized. The idea was also mooted by the Karnataka Ecotourism Development Board and is to be the first-of-its-kind in the country. BBP houses over 32 leopards, some in enclosures.
“All leopards cannot be in the safari as some are rescued and old. Discussions are on with the ZAK member secretary as well,” Bijjur said. Zoo officials have expressed concern on leopard behavior. They climb trees and even jump long distances. Besides, the area chosen is near the elephant corridor. So there is a need for rail barricades and string fences. The zoo management, meantime, started building enclosures for the cats to be housed in the safari. In the council meeting, it was unanimously decided the BBP will go on with the safari, despite the delay, because it has a large area available. Having experience in big cat safari, the BBP is the only zoo to accept rescued leopard cubs, unlike Mysuru.