Pune: Forest dept rescues two leopard cubs from sugarcane farms, reunites them with mothers

A leopard carries away its 30-day-old cub.

The forest department, along with an NGO, rescued two leopard cubs and reunited them with their mothers after they were found in sugarcane farms - a somewhat common occurrence during harvest season in the state.

Earlier this week, sugarcane farmers from Kale village in Karad taluka of Satara district stumbled upon a leopard cub while harvesting their crop. They immediately alerted the forest department, who sought to reunite the young leopard with its mother. However, after several attempts, the mother failed to show up, said a statement issued on Wednesday.

Range Forest Officer Ajit Sajane then reached out to the Wildlife SOS team operating out of the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center in Junnar. A team from the NGO, led by senior veterinarian Ajay Deshmukh, drove 300 km to reach the spot.

The cub was identified as a female, estimated to be about 40 days old. The teams set out to track down the mother. After five days, a female leopard was spotted outside the village at around 2.00 am on Monday. They placed the cub in a safe box and kept the box close to the sugarcane field in which the cub was first found.

Camera trap footage installed by the Wildlife SOS team captured the mother leopard slowly approaching the cub. After removing the covers from the safe box, it picked up the cub by the scruff of the neck and retreated into the sugarcane field.

Around the same time, a 30-day-old male cub was reportedly found in a sugarcane field in Narayangaon area of Junnar. It, too, was rescued and eventually reunited with its mother, said the statement.

"We would like to ensure that the cubs which get don't end up in captivity. We want them living freely in their natural habitat and learning the skills of survival in the wild," said Deshmukh.