Thursday, December 21, 2006

India: Two leopard cubs rescued from tea gardens

Jaldapara (West Bengal), Dec 19 (ANI): Forest officials here have rescued two leopard cubs from tea gardens.The cubs were apparently orphaned or abandoned by their mother.

Barely a few months old, the young cats were taken by a rescue team to a rehabilitation centre in a wildlife sanctuary nearby.

The cubs have been put on a milk diet. Caretakers at the rehabilitation centre say they will start feeding them minced meat when they are six months old.

"In North Bengal, protected forest areas like the Buxa Tiger reserve and Jaldapara are mostly located next to tea gardens.

This (leopards straying away) happens when they are born near the tea gardens," said M.L. Biswas, Divisional Forest Officer, Jaldapara.

Wildlife officials are concerned about the cubs not being able to acclimatise themselves to the wild after growing up.

The increasing demand for animal hides in the international market makes the leopard and tiger population of India under constant threat from poachers.

It is estimated that for every tiger killed; at least 25 leopards are killed.

If this trend continues, wildlife officials fear leopards might soon get extinct.

An estimate made recently estimated the leopard population in the country at around 10,000. (ANI) Two-leopard-cubs-rescued-from-West-Bengal-tea-gardens

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