USE OF XYLAZINE HYDROCHLORIDE-KETAMINE
HYDROCHLORIDE FOR IMMOBILIZATION OF WILD LEOPARDS
(PANTHERA PARDUS FUSCA) IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Aniruddha V. Belsare, B.V.Sc. and A.H., and Vidya R. Athreya, M.Sc.
In India, leopards (Panthera pardus fusca) inhabit human-dominated landscapes, resulting in
encounters that require interventions to prevent harm to people, as well as the leopards. Immobilization is a
prerequisite for any such intervention. Such emergency field immobilizations have to be carried out with limited
tools, often amidst large uncontrollable crowds. An effective and practicable approach is discussed, based on 55
wild leopard immobilizations undertaken between January 2003 and April 2008. A xylazine hydrochloride (1.4 6
0.3 mg/kg)–ketamine hydrochloride (5 6 2 mg/kg) mixture was used for immobilization of leopards, based on
estimated body weight. When weight could not be estimated, a standard initial dose of 50 mg of xylazine–150 mg of
ketamine was used. Supplemental doses (50–75 mg) of only ketamine were used as required. No life-threatening
adverse effects of immobilization were documented for at least 1 mo postimmobilization.
Key words: Emergency, field immobilization, leopard, Panthera pardus fusca.
The leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) occurs
throughout India, and like striped hyenas (Hy-
aena hyaena) and Indian wolves (Canis lupus
pallipes), inhabits human-dominated landscapes
with varying degrees of conflict. During the last
decade, there has been an apparent increase in
human–leopard conflict in many parts of India,
with more than a thousand people attacked by
leopards in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra,
Uttaranchal, and West Bengal (Athreya, unpubl.
data). Instances of leopards inadvertently trapped
in wells, houses, crop-fields, or in snares and
traps intended for other animals are frequently
reported. Almost always, the presence of an
uncontrollable and reactive crowd in such situa-
tions necessitates that the State Forest depart-
ments rapidly remove the leop