Sunday, May 13, 2007 (Mandvi)
Two baby leopards were killed in a fire in Mandavi district of Surat in Gujarat. The leopards, who were seven days old, were in a sugarcane field with their mother.
The fire, which was started to burn the sugarcane crop, cost the leopards their lives. Now their desperate mother has been frantically searching for her two cubs, looking where she last left them.
She had picked one cub and run out of the field, but she couldn't save the other two cubs. Now she has been searching the field in vain.
The fire is an annual event there. The farmers burn the field just before harvesting the sugarcane, since it makes the cutting easier. But the leopardess hadn't known that when she picked the field to give birth.
"We are field labourers. We have not seen the leopard yet, but we saw both her burnt cubs. We were working in the same field. We are scared. But it's a matter of survival, we have to keep working," said Jotarbhai, field labourer.
The forest department is still to catch the leopardess. They cremated the two cubs but are now waiting for the mother with this cage.
The villagers feel the leopardess is a threat and until she is caught and released in a safe place, the lives of the leopardess and her surviving cub are in danger too.