Photos: This reunion that will put even Karan-Arjun to shame

Quick thinking by Somatwadi farmers and Junnar forest department officials leads to three-week-old lost cubs re-uniting with their mom; camera traps capture rare, heart-warming moment

Forest officials release the 21-day-old leopard cubs into the wild
Forest officials release the 21-day-old leopard cubs into the wild

This Wednesday, farmers from Somatwadi village in Junnar taluka of Pune district were harvesting sugarcane when they stumbled on two leopard cubs. Meanwhile, forest department officials heard that a female leopard had been spotted nearby, and may be searching for her cubs.

In what is a rare occurrence for the four-footed, a team of the Junnar forest department with the help of NGO Wildlife SOS, managed to reunite two three-week-old leopard cubs found in a sugarcane field with their mother. Even better, the department recorded the reunion using camera traps.

The camera captures the leopard picking up her cubs and disappearing into the safety of the forest
The camera captures the leopard picking up her cubs and disappearing into the safety of the forest

Lost and found
On Wednesday, farmers from Somatwadi village in Junnar taluka of Pune district were harvesting sugarcane when they found two leopard cubs in the field. Assuming the worst, and to prevent a man-animal conflict with the mother, the farmers moved the cubs and alerted the authorities which dispatched FD official Sanjay Gaikwad and vet Dr Ajay Deshmukh from Wildlife SOS to the spot.

The two cubs — a male and female — were estimated to be about 21 days old, and a medical examination by Dr Deshmukh concluded that they were fit for release.

The forest department officials bring the leopard cubs to the field where the mother was last spotted hunting for them
The forest department officials bring the leopard cubs to the field where the mother was last spotted hunting for them

Meanwhile, news surfaced that a female leopard was spotted nearby and might be searching for her cubs. Gaikwad told mid-day, “After the cubs were safely rescued from the sugarcane field in the afternoon, we attempted to reunite them with their mother on Wednesday night itself.”

Dr Deskhmukh added, “In all cub rescue operations, the motive is to reunite them with the mother. So, the Wildlife SOS team, in conjunction with the FD officials, placed the two cubs, who were scared and crying, in a box and left it in the area where the female leopard was last sighted. The team also placed two remote-controlled camera traps to document the reunion and monitor the situation. Several hours in, the leopard emerged from the forest and checking the two cubs, possibly to verify their identity, carefully carried them away,” said the senior veterinarian from Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre.

Leopard mom checking the boxes in which her cubs were kept
Leopard mom checking the boxes in which her cubs were kept

Expert speak
Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said, “We like to ensure that leopards don’t end up in captivity. We want them back in the wild, living free, since it is crucial for cubs to grow up around their mothers and learn survival skills.”

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