After forest officials failed to find the mother of a three-month-old female leopard that was rescued from a sugarcane field near Nashik, Maharashtra, the cub has been sent to a rescue centre.
On Monday, forest officials and members of NGO Wildlife SOS took the cub to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center that currently houses 32 leopards that cannot be released back into the wild since they cannot fend for themselves. The center acts as a transit home for injured cats or others trapped after they were found in human habitations.
According to the forest department, there is an increase in leopard sightings during the harvest season. “Female leopards find these tall dense fields a suitable shelter for giving birth and rearing their cubs but since farmers fear for their life, they scare away the mother,” said a local forest official from Nashik. “We have observed numerous instances where the mothers abandon their cubs, never to return.”
On early morning December 26, the cub was spotted by farmers from near Chapadgaon village, Nashik while they were harvesting their crop. “The cub was shivering when we found him and immediately informed the forest department,” said Vilas Darade, sugarcane farmer from Chapadgaon.
Veterinarians from Wildlife SOS and forest officials spent a week waiting for the mother to come back to the spot by isolating the cub, especially at night. However, she did not return, said officials. “Young leopards, especially less than six-months old, cannot survive on their own. The chief wildlife warden of the forest department decided to place it under the permanent care of Wildlife SOS,” said Yuvraj Mohite, assistant conservator of forest, Nashik.
“The baby leopard is quite active,” said Ajay Deshmukh, veterinarian, Wildlife SOS. “A preliminary medical examination was conducted and she was checked for external parasites and injuries.”
He added that she was lucky to have completed the cycle where she required her mother’s milk on a daily basis. “We have currently kept her on a solid diet and she loves eating chicken. We will continue to monitor her health as baby leopards are very susceptible to various health issues and are quite delicate at this age,” said Deshmukh. “We will have to hand-rear her as she cannot be returned back to the wild.”
Past instances of leopard cubs being reunited with their mothers
November 14, 2016 - In a 13-hour rescue operation, three two-month-old leopard cubs were successfully reunited with their mother by forest officials on Sunday at a farm near Vadgaon Rasai village, in Shirur district of Maharashtra, almost 80 kilometres away from Pune.
September 17, 2016 - A one-and-half-month-old male leopard cub, separated from its mother, was rescued and reunited from a sugarcane field near Sangamner, Ahmednagar district, by forest officials.
July 5, 2015 – Forest officials rescued a three-month-old leopard cub from a dry well at Vadgaon, Anand village in Junnar taluka, Pune district and reunited it with the mother after a 10-hour rescue operation.
May 4, 2015 - Wildlife authorities at Narayangaon range in Junnar in Pune district reunited four leopard cubs separated from their mother early, after treating them at a local rescue centre.
(Source: Maharashtra Forest Department)