India: Four ‘abandoned’ leopard cubs keeping all on their toes

Karnataka – Mysore

A trying experience for their caregivers
Special Correspondent

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The cubs were picked up by some farmers who thought they had been abandoned
They cannot be let into the woods as they have no self-preservation abilities
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MYSORE: For the staff at the Forest Department guesthouse here, it is a testing time as four unusual guests have kept them busy for the past few weeks. Four chubby leopard cubs are grabbing the attention of all and have become the cynosure of all eyes as they grapple with each other, bite, roll, curl up and provide non-stop entertainment.

It is rare for cubs so young to survive the separation from their mother. But these four have pulled along and are reckoned to be healthy. “We feed them milk mixed with egg twice a day and give them a chicken-based diet in the afternoon,” said their caretaker Shivu.

Five-week ordeal

It has been five weeks since the cubs were separated from their mother. A few farmers near Nanjangud just picked them up and gave them to the department, thinking they were abandoned. Wildlife experts have urged farmers time and again not to disturb cubs if the mother is not around as big cats generally tend to go around hunting and return after a while. With public awareness of animal behaviour being low, people tend to pick up cubs owing to misplaced sympathy and the false belief that they have been abandoned.

The four cubs were hardly a few days old when they were picked up from a sugarcane field and brought to the Forest Department office. Their chances of survival were reckoned to be bleak, but continuous nursing and proper veterinary care have ensured that they grow healthily. However, their future is uncertain as they cannot be released into the forests, for they cannot be taught tricks of hunting and self-preservation.

The next stop may be the Mysore zoo or the Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore. But that is something which will be decided by the officials. The cubs have, however, accustomed themselves to human presence and seem comfortable in their new ambience.

http://www.thehindu.com/2009/05/11/stories/2009051150780200.htm

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

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