Pune, 28th April 2022: Two leopard cubs were spotted in a sugarcane field near Talegaon Dhamdhere village, situated in Shirur Forest Range, Pune district of Maharashtra. Wildlife SOS assisted the Maharashtra Forest Department in reuniting the cubs with their mother in what was their third successful reunion in a span of one month.
On spotting the cubs in a sugarcane field, the local farmers of Taleogaon Damdhere village in Shirur immediately alerted the Forest Department. The cubs were rescued over the weekend but despite repeated attempts to reunite them, the mother leopard did not show up. Eventually, the Forest Department reached out to the Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre in Junnar, for assistance.
Geared with medical kits and rescue equipment, the team travelled nearly 90 km to reach the location. Upon arrival, a Wildlife SOS veterinarian conducted an on-site health examination of the cubs. Identified as one male and one female, they were estimated to be four to six weeks old.
On Tuesday evening, the team placed the cubs in a safe box close to the location from where they were discovered. For the reunion to be a success, the box was lined with the cubs’ urine drops, so that it acted as a scent marking to assist the mother leopard in locating them more easily. After a few hours, camera traps captured the heartwarming moment of the female leopard finding her cubs and carrying them away to a safer location.
Dr Nikhil Bangar, Veterinary Officer, Wildlife SOS said, “On reaching the box, the mother leopard patiently waited to ensure no danger stood in the way, and then cleverly used her paws to tip the box over. Using scent-markings for reunions is an essential technique as it helps the mother to locate her cubs. This is the third successful reunion in a month and Wildlife SOS makes every possible effort to make such rescue and reunion operations possible.”
Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder and CEO, Wildlife SOS said, “Over the years, Wildlife SOS has partnered with the state forest department to significantly contribute to leopard conservation in Maharashtra. This reunion was another example of that partnership and we were glad to assist the Forest Department in successfully completing this operation. The prompt response of the villagers in informing the authorities about these situations also shows the positive impact of the workshops and awareness programmes conducted by Wildlife SOS in the past.”
Manohar Ramdev Mhasekar, RFO, Shirur said, “Shirur is a leopard dominant area and this is the second leopard cub reunion this month. We called the Wildlife SOS team to help us with the reunion which was completed successfully.”
Community-based conservation is the most important tool for mitigating human-wildlife conflict. The sugarcane harvesting season in rural Maharashtra coincides with the birthing period of mother leopards, and they prefer the tall and dense foliage of the sugarcane fields to give birth. Thus, the awareness of the local community plays a huge role here to avoiding any kind of mishap and ensuring that these cubs are safely reunited with their mothers.