FOUR LEOPARD cubs, reportedly abandoned by a leopardess in Patur tehsil of Akola district two weeks ago, were brought to Gorewada Rescue Centre on Thursday after attempts to reunite them with the mother failed.
While three of the cubs were found on the Morna riverbed near Pastol village on June 30, a search led to the fourth cub the next day in the same area. Local forest officials tried hard to reunite the cubs with the mother but it did not accept them, forcing them to abandon the operation after 15 days.
“The mother would come close to the cubs but didn’t accept them. On June 12, it came as close to them as 10 metres but went back after some time. When it was clear that it wasn’t accepting them, we decided to move them to Nagpur,” said Divisional Forest Officer Vijay Mane.
“About two months old, the cubs, two males and two females, were cared for by three forest staff teams 24×7, working eight hours each on the spot. The cubs were fed goat milk and grew healthy; abandoned cubs’ chances of survival without mother are low,” Mane said, adding, “they weighed between 1,100 and 775 gm.”
Mane said, “The female leopard was probably in the mating phase and wasn’t taking the cubs along. It’s possible that the mate wasn’t the cubs’ father and, hence, the mother didn’t want to expose them.”
At Gorewada centre in Nagpur, a recent rush of rescued animals has had officials scampering to accommodate them. “For now, we have kept them in hospital, but we already have 23 leopards against the capacity of 20,” said Deputy Conservator of Forest Nandkishor Kale.
The centre, however, is hoping to free up some space in August by moving seven leopards to the adjacent Gorewada international zoo, which is going to have Indian and African safaris. “The Indian safari is likely to be opened in November, but we have to release the animals there to get them acclimatised to the new environment,” said Kale.
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