If some wonderful individuals hadn’t stepped in — just in time — to aid, a tiny wild family would have been irrevocably broken apart.
Sugarcane farmers in Maharashtra, India, were wrapping off a hard day of harvesting the crops when they came upon a little bundle of fur laying on the ground.
The gorgeously spotted bundle was a leopard cub, around 2 months old, and the farmers knew just what to do: they alerted a forest ranger, who dispatched a Wildlife SOS rescue team to the fields.
Because fields and cities encroach on leopard habitat, it’s not unusual for leopards and people to come into touch in that area.
According to Animal SOS, an organization that participates in numerous local wildlife rescues in the region, “expanding cropland and dwindling woodlands have led to a manifold increase in man-leopard conflict in the area.”
It’s cub season right now, so pregnant leopards take refuge in the sugarcane, oblivious to the fact that it’s also harvest season.
“The frequency of leopard sightings and disputes increases throughout the pre-harvest and harvest seasons,” Kartick Satyanarayan, cofounder and CEO of Wildlife SOS, said in a statement. “The dense and tall vegetation offers for a perfect sanctuary for the leopards to nest in and raise their babies.”
Knowing that every minute the youngster was apart from his mother increased the mother leopard’s stress and agitation, the rescue team moved quickly to verify the cub’s health before devising a method to reunite them.
Fortunately, Wildlife SOS senior veterinarian Ajay Deshmukh discovered the youngster to be in fine form for release.
The team set up a concealed camera when they found a decent position for the cub to be placed so they could watch if the mother returned to the area for her youngster.
An adult leopard was sighted investigating the area under the cover of darkness.
“A leopardess eventually emerged from the nearby jungle about 9:30 p.m.,” Deshmukh added.
The leopard appears to hesitate in the video when she notices something in the plastic box on the field.
She did what cats do best: knocked the box over in an action that is common to all cats.
That’s when the box’s lid fell off, and the cub began to claw his way out.
Both leopards were frightened when they first saw each other, but it soon became evident who they were.
With a slight bounce in her step, the mother leopard clasped her child in her mouth and carried him back into the trees.
“We can only image how relieved she was to locate her baby safe and sound!” Deshmukh remarked. “Rescues like this have a particular place in our hearts because knowing that this cub will now be nurtured in the wild by his mother and hence have a strong shot at a free existence in the wild is extremely fulfilling.”