A tiger whose front left paw was amputated after it got entangled in a steel trap set by poachers in 2012 will on Saturday get a prosthetic limb, with one of the doctors treating the big cat claiming the procedure is a first in the world.
A team of orthopedic surgeon Shushrut Babhulkar, veterinary doctor Shirish Upadhyay, medical personnel from Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Science University (MAFSU) besides experts from IIT-Bombay and abroad have collaborated over the past two years on the project.
8-year-old Sahebrao, maimed near a waterhole in Palasagaon forest range in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Chandarpur district in 2012 when it was just two, is kept at the newly-opened Gorewada Rescue Centre in Nagpur.
"When I first saw it in 2018, Sahebrao was huge but was unable to walk and would growl in pain constantly. As part of the procedure to fit prosthetic limb, we have taken X-rays, measurement etc. Two to three months ago, we operated on a nerve that was giving the tiger pain," Dr Babhulkar told PTI.
The dislocation of one its joints was treated next as was the fracture that was not healing for a long time, he added.
"On Saturday, the final part of the mission will take place. We will fit a prosthetic limb which has been specially designed after consultation with an international platform of medical experts. Veterinary surgeon Shirish Upadhay will helm the operation," he said.
Dr Babhulkar cannot operate on the tiger as he is not a veterinarian. He informed that Professor Peter Janadice from Leeds will also be taking part in the operation.
"It is the first time something like this is happening anywhere in the world," Dr Babhulkar claimed.