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India: "Misplaced sympathy may cost us our leopards"

Karnataka – Mysore

Special Correspondent

Two leopard cubs ‘rescued’ from sugarcane field

MYSORE: It is a plea that has fallen on deaf ears. Not to pick up leopard cubs left behind by the mother that may have gone foraging for food. But yet again, a few youngsters from Arasinakere in Jayapura hobli of Mysore taluk picked up two leopard cubs found in a sugarcane field and promptly brought them to the Mysore zoo on Thursday.

And the zoo authorities turned down the request to harbour the cubs following which the cubs were shifted to the Aranya Bhavan. The two cubs are reckoned to be around 15 days old and given their fragile health, as they are still in the suckling period, their chances of survival may be slim.

Wildlife conservationists have time and appealed to the public not to disturb the leopard cubs that may be found in sugarcane fields. Leopards are highly adaptable creatures and tend to keep the cubs in the perceived safety of sugarcane fields or shrub vegetation far from their habitat.

But as experts have pointed, shifting, if any, should be done only after carefully monitoring the movement of the cubs and ascertaining that the mother has indeed abandoned them.

But the tendency is to pick up the little cats and bring them to the zoo which does not have the authority to keep more than a stipulated number of animals per species.

Such “rescues” born out of misplaced sympathy are disconcerting as leopard population across the country is declining and such misplaced sympathies may hasten their march to extinction.

http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/27/stories/2009112751380200.htm

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

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