A leopard cub was reunited with its mother after a six-day operation undertaken by the Maharashtra forest department and NGO Wildlife SOS, at Karad village in Satara district on Tuesday.
The cub, along with another dead cub, was found in a sugarcane field on the outskirts of the village in Karad on April 9. The cubs were found by farmers working in the field, who then transported both the cubs out of the field and informed a local police officer.
Meanwhile, fearing that the mother leopard would be hiding in the field, the farmers set the field on fire. The mother leopard was found running to nearby fields from the back side, said farmers.
The forest department team, including range forest officer and a veterinarian, conducted the medical examination of the cubs. The cub was found to be around 30-40 days old weighing two kgs. The postmortem of the other cub revealed the cause of death as starvation.
After a medical examination and feeding of milk after every 3 hours to ensure that the female cub was healthy enough to be released, it was put in a crate at 6.30 pm the same day, close to where it was found. A remote-controlled camera trap was installed at the site to monitor movement of the mother leopard. At around 9.52 the same night, the leopard visited the crate and then again at 4.30 am. However, the mother leopard did not carry the cub back. After examining the cub for over six days and keeping the crate at the same location throughout, the leopard finally carried the cub on Monday late night.
The leopard sightings increase during pre-harvest and harvest season because of the denser and tall vegetation, which the leopards see as a convenient shelter. In March, a 9-week-old cub, which was re-united with its family near Nagapur village in Pune district, was found in sugarcane fields.