India’s First Rescued Snow Leopard Cub Returns to Mother

by GoNews Desk 3 years ago Views 1615

India’s First Rescued Snow Leopard Cub Returns to
High in the Himalayas near the India-China border, Gue is globally famous for the mummified remains of Buddhist monk Sangha Tenzin. It now has another reason for fame. In a rocky pasture near the Himachal Pradesh village located at a height of 3,200 metres, a snow leopard cub was rescued and returned to the wild.

In late April, 43 sheep and goats had been found dead in their pens within four days, incensing the residents of Gue, most of whom are shepherds. Responding to their demand, the state wildlife department installed a trap and a cage. On May 1, they found a snow leopard cub in the trap.

Eight months old and weighing just seven kilogrammes, the cub was wounded from trying to escape, weak, dehydrated and stressed. The tail had gangrene. Its teeth were milk teeth.

Gue is in the Spiti valley. From the valley’s main town Kaza, the cub was transported about 350 kilometres – a journey that takes around 10 hours – to the Himalayan Nature Park (HNP) in Kufri next to state capital Shimla. At 2,720 metres above sea level, Kufri is still at a significantly lower altitude than Gue, therefore far warmer than what snow leopards are used to. That was why the cub was moved at night, explained Sandeep Rattan, assistant director for veterinary services at HNP.

While at HNP, the cub developed two permanent teeth, the first sign of maturity, Savita, principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) and chief wildlife warden of Himachal Pradesh, recounted joyfully.

Return to the wild

Savita told The Third Pole, “From the very beginning, when the veterinarian declared the snow leopard a cub, we decided to release it in its mother’s habitat.”

Ajay Bijoor, assistant director for the high-altitude conservation programme at Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), said, “If the animal can be rehabilitated into the wild, it should be. That is the service we will do for the good of our own entire ecosystem. It is not ideal to make a wild-bred, healthy snow leopard suffer in the restricted environment of a zoo, fed by others and watched by tourists for fun.”

Under the guidelines of India’s Central Zoo Authority (CZA), if a rescued wild animal is not released within 30 days it has to be kept in a zoo.

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