Leopard cub survives Ahmednagar fire, brought to Mumbai’s SGNP
The incident, which took place near Vanjarvadi village in Nevasa taluk, killed two of the cub’s siblings, both female. The male cub’s whiskers were scorched in the fire.Updated: Dec 21, 2018 14:49 IST
The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), Borivli has taken in a 45-day-old male leopard cub that survived a massive fire at a sugarcane field in Ahmednagar last month. He was brought to the city on Tuesday and is currently under observation at the park’s hospital.
The incident, which took place near Vanjarvadi village in Nevasa taluk, killed two of the cub’s siblings, both female. The male cub’s whiskers were scorched in the fire. Attempts by forest department teams to reunite him with his mother failed, after which it was decided to bring him to SGNP.
Veterinarians said the 2.4-kg cub is being kept on a special diet. “We are keeping an eye on him as infant leopards are always at a high risk and are sensitive,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, veterinarian, SGNP.
Pethe said that apart from round-the-clock monitoring, the animal was being fed chicken regularly, along with vitamin and calcium supplements, to improve his immunity. “There cub is suffering from separation anxiety, which can severely affect his health. Cuddling the cub gently and caressing its tail or back helps calm him. However, replicating the lick or the warmth of the mother cannot be done,” he said. “The process of moving the cub from Ahmednagar to Mumbai and the loss of his siblings and mother has left the cub scared and stressed out. The cub needs at least two months in captivity to recuperate,” said Sanjay Waghmode, superintendent of lion and tiger safaris, SGNP.
Leopard cubs are reared by their mother till the age of two and are often left in thick vegetation when the mother goes to hunt. On November 21, farmers from Vanjarvadi were burning crop stubble in the fields. “The three cubs were sleeping at one end of the farmland when the fire woke them up,” said BV Shinde, range forest officer, Ahmednagar. “As they had feeble legs, they could not run fast and fell face first as the fire spread. All three survived at the time.”
Shinde said a local veterinarian tried to treat the burn injuries, but the female cubs succumbed to respiratory ailments. “We tried to reunite the male cub with his mother over the next 10 days. Even though, the mother returned to the spot and we caught her images on our camera trap, she refused to take her cub. This left us clueless,” he said.Over the 17 days, forest officials worked on acquiring permissions to shift the cub to SGNP.
“Special care will be given to the cub. Our veterinary doctors and medical staff will help the cub adjust to the new circumstances,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator, SGNP.