A snow leopard cub rescued from a village in Spiti valley earlier this month will soon be released back into the wild, and may possibly be reunited with its mother, Himachal Pradesh wildlife officials said.
“The cub was scheduled to be released back by a wildlife team on Monday night but we have not been updated with the developments because they are in a remote area and we can’t reach them due to low network connectivity,” said Dr Savita, chief wildlife warden of the state.
The cub, aged 6-8 months, was rescued from a livestock pen in Gue village on May 2, and brought to the Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri for examination and recovery.
“It was weak due to malnourishment, dehydration and a few injuries, but recuperated during its stay in Kufri. It was observed from a distance, mostly fed a diet of chicken, and human contact was kept to the minimum,” said an official, adding that its gender could not be ascertained.
Back in Gue, officials found evidence of the presence of a female adult snow leopard, and presumed it to be the cub’s mother. The cub has now been transported back to Gue, roughly 350 km from Kufri, in a bid to reunite it with its mother.
The cub was rescued by the department after area residents reported that 43 sheep and goats in the village were killed in a span of four days. Initially, the cub was believed to have killed the animals but later, upon examination, officials found that it was too young and its teeth had not developed enough to have killed the prey. It was then presumed that the cub was accompanied by its mother or another adult, and had got trapped inside the pen.
The snow leopard is the state animal of Himachal Pradesh, and Spiti valley is one of the state’s most important snow leopard landscapes. Because of inaccessibility to much of the snow leopard’s habitat, their exact numbers in the wild are still unknown. A survey to ascertain the large cat’s population in the state is currently underway, led by the wildlife wing of the state forest department and Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru.
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