Three leopard cubs reunited with mother in Maharashtra

Updated: 21 November, 2019 19:27 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

The twenty-five day old cubs were kept under observation for a few hours

Local sugarcane farmers in found three tiny leopard cubs while harvesting crops. Picture/Wildlife SOS
Local sugarcane farmers in found three tiny leopard cubs while harvesting crops. Picture/Wildlife SOS

Once again, successfully continuing its track record, the NGO Wildlife SOS along with Maharashtra Forest Department reunited three leopard cubs found in a sugarcane field in Nagargaon village located in Shirur range, with their mother. The twenty-five-day old cubs were kept under observation for a few hours and later successfully reunited with the mother.

It may be noted that harvest season in Maharashtra often coincides with leopard cub season, which puts both humans and these elusive wild cats in a rather sensitive and conflicting situation. Owing to their dense and tall stalks, sugarcane fields foster a suitable shelter for the female leopards to breed in and this serves as a safe haven for their cubs from other predators. However, most often than not these cubs face the risk of being exposed to sugarcane farmers, especially during the harvest season.

On Tuesday, local sugarcane farmers in Nagargaon village stumbled upon three tiny leopard cubs while harvesting their crops. The Forest Department and the Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center were soon alerted to this incident and both teams immediately geared up for the rescue mission.

The leopards, identified as one male and two females, were estimated to be about twenty-five days old. They were found to be in good health and ready to go back to their mother. As leopards are territorial animals it is essential to release them close to where they were initially found. The cubs were carefully placed in a safe box and the team installed a remote-controlled camera trap to document the reunion process while monitoring the area from a distance.

 Dr. Ajay Deshmukh, Senior Veterinarian at the Wildlife SOS Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre said, "The mother must have been searching for her cubs, as within a few minutes she was able to sniff them out. On reaching the crate, she patiently waited to ensure no danger stood in the way, and then she cleverly used her paws to carefully tip it over. She then moved them to a safer location. Wildlife SOS makes every effort to make such rescue and reunion operations possible."

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO Wildlife SOS said, "The harvest season in the state of Maharashtra, witnesses higher instances of leopard sightings because the farmers move into the fields to cut down the long sugarcane stalks. We are grateful to the villagers who took the right step by informing the Forest Department. The team aims at working closely with the Forest Department to raise awareness among the villagers to promote a positive attitude towards leopards and endorse a feeling of co-existence."

What the Forest Department has to say?

Manohar Ramdev Mhasekar, RFO, Shirur said, "Such incidents are quite common for villagers residing near the scrub forests of Maharashtra, which is the natural habitat of a large population of leopards. The Wildlife SOS team was highly trained and very helpful in guiding us through handling the cubs. It’s reassuring to know that the cubs will be raised in the wild by their mother and thereby have a good chance at a free life in the wild.

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First Published: 21 November, 2019 18:59 IST

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