India: Abandoned leopard cubs hand-reared by forest rangers

Jayashree Nandi , TNN, 3 February 2010, 01:18am IST

BANGALORE: The cook calls them Hakki Pikki and wildlife enthusiasts call them Rinku and Pinku. These abandoned leopard cubs roam around like cute kittens at the forest ranger’s house, their loving home.

There are over seven abandoned leopard cubs in the state being hand-reared like pet cats by forest personnel. According to additional principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) B K Singh, this problem is becoming common in fringe areas, especially in the Mysore belt. The leopard litters in sugarcane fields and when farmers find them, they bring the cubs to the forest department office.

“Yes, leopards are a problem because they roam around human settlements and if the mother abandons the litter, the cubs are brought to us. But there are a lot of leopards in zoos as well,” says Singh.

There are five leopard cubs in Bhadravati, two in Nagarahole and one in Bandipur. The problem arose when two cubs at the ranger’s house in Nagarahole grew old enough to be relocated. Since they have been hand-reared, they cannot adapt to the wilderness and vulnerable to attacks by larger carnivores.

Initially, the department planned to relocate them directly to the wild, but the department decided to keep them in a 80 ft x 50 ft enclosure for a couple of months and check if they can adapt in the wild. If not, they will be sent to the zoo.

The cub in Bandipur is slow and will probably have to be relocated to a zoo. The five cubs in Bhadravati are very young and their fate will be decided only after a couple of months. The forest department plans to make an enclosure for them in Bhadravati.

“We were very concerned that these cubs would be left into the wild directly. They cannot fend for themselves — they’re just like kittens. The forest department has taken the right decision,” said a wildlife enthusiast, who has been visiting the ranger’s house in Nagarahole regularly to see the cubs.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Abandoned-leopard-cubs-hand-reared-by-forest-rangers/articleshow/5529130.cms

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