Villagers face challenge in reuniting mother leopard with rescued cub

Pune, Sep 19 (IANS) Over a week after its rescue from the sugarcane fields of Sangamner in Maharashtra, wildlife rescuers are finding it difficult to reunite a leopard cub with its mother, which they say is happening for the first time.

Ajay Deshmukh, a senior veterinarian involved in the reuniting operation, says that mother leopards usually on the same day or within a few hours take the cub away with them from the spot it was found. However, this time things are not taking their natural course.

“We speculate that the mother leopard might have other cubs for whom after losing this one, she would’ve become over protective and moved somewhere far or safe,” the veterinarian at the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre of Wildlife SOS, an animal welfare organisation, told IANS.

Deshmukh, who is looking after the cub since the day of its rescue on September 10, has rescued about 50 leopard cubs. The cub is under foster care.

“It often happens that the cubs are separated from their mothers in such regions with less forest cover and more fields as their mothers leave them somewhere while they go on hunt. Cubs either move from there and get lost or are left behind while moving along with their mothers, mostly in case of mothers with more than one cub,” Deshmukh said.

To reunite with the mother, the leopard cub is placed in a basket and kept at the place where it was found from where the mother leopard collects it.

But this time the mother leopard is not taking her cub away.

Wildlife SOS said that while some villagers claim that they hear the calls of the mother leopard during the night, the rescuers say they have neither spotted nor heard any such calls.

S.W. Upasane, Forest Guard, said that the cub was trembling with fear and hunger on being spotted.

“We decided to feed it some milk and water, while we waited for the mother to return for her cub. However, even after hours of waiting, she did not show up,” Upasane said.

Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS, said that heavy rains in the region have made it slightly difficult to carry out the operation.

“The scrub forests of Maharashtra are home to a rich population of leopards. The tall sugarcane fields in the region provide a safe cover for these animals, who are struggling to find foothold in the vanishing forests amid invasion in their natural habitat leading to habitat modification,” Satyanarayan told IANS.

–IANS

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