IN a miraculous and rare reunion, three leopard cubs were successfully traced and reunited with their mother at Bhramanwada village at Niphad taluka in Nashik district on Sunday. Two female and one male cub, believed to be 20-days-old, were first spotted by the villagers lost amidst thick sugarcane fields on November 8.
With winter approaching, it is also the time when cane crushing commences and spotting of leopard is common in this part of the state. The villagers first contacted the local forest officer, Sanjay Bhandari, who tried various ways, along with his team, to reunite the mother with the cubs. However, with each passing day, the villagers too were losing patience and finding it increasingly unsafe to live in the vicinity.
“At first, the villagers were persistent to take away the leopard cubs from their fields. They were explained the advantage of waiting for the female leopard to take away her cubs,” said Bhandari.
“Upon learning about these lost cubs, we reached the spot on November 12. Since there were already previous failed attempts made to reunite the cubs with their mother, we decided to study the pugmarks and trace the possible track for the grown-up female to make way,” said Dr Ajay Deshmukh, a veterinarian whose Wildlife SOS team, operating out of Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar, rescued these leopards.
What made this rescue for the team simpler is that the female leopard arrived at the spot not later than half an hour of arranging the cubs under the plastic basket. There was a chance that the female leopard would never ever come in search of her cubs as four days had already gone by, giving her little affection or feel for lactation. “We had suspected the female would return as, after the end of the lactation period, female leopards usually abandon her cubs. But, fortunately, in this case, we managed to reunite the family healthy and successfully,” said a relieved Dr Deshmukh.
The wildlife experts kept a close watch on the cubs until the female arrived. The leopard family was at the spot for over four hours before escaping into the jungle by midnight on Sunday. It was a miraculous survival of the trio, as they survived in the fields without being fed by its mother for four days, wildlife experts said.