GUWAHATI, Aug 22 - A male clouded leopard cub, aged between three to six months, was admitted to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) � Wildlife Trust of India (WTI)-run Wildlife Transit Home at Charaikhola in Kokrajhar recently.
The cub was brought to the Wildlife Transit Home from the proposed Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) zoo campus by the IFAW-WTI and Assam Forest Department staff from Kokrajhar.
According to available information, an unknown person handed over the sick clouded leopard cub to the staff of the proposed BTC zoo. The cub was kept for more than 10-15 days at the zoo after which it was handed over to the IFAW-WTI Wildlife Transit Home for further care.
�The animal was very weak, anaemic and pot-bellied at the time of admission. A suitable diet chart has been framed for its health improvement,� said Dr Bhaskar Choudhury, regional head and head veterinarian, who examined the cub at the centre. The animal weighs 2.2 kg.
The zoo staff believe that the cub was picked up from the nearby Kachugaon reserve forest under the Manas Tiger Reserve. �This theory needs further investigation and we need to get to the bottom of the story on how the cub landed at the zoo facility,� Dr Choudhury further added.
At present, the cub is under observation and care at the Wildlife Transit Home at Charaikhola. Following the clouded leopard rehabilitation protocol, the cub will be hand-raised at the centre and rehabilitated to give him a future in the wild.
One of the main threats to the clouded leopard is habitat loss, as unlike the common leopard, it is a species that does not fare well in human-dominated landscapes. Occasionally, clouded leopard skins are confiscated by the enforcement authorities, indicating that there is an active trade in clouded leopard pelts (for decoration and clothing) and meat as a substitute for tiger in Chinese traditional medicine.
The WTI has handled seven cases of clouded leopards in Assam, most of them originating from the western Assam area near the Manas National Park. The first batch was admitted in 2009 after two cubs were found alone in Kanthalmari village, Kokrajhar district, Bodoland. With the mother assumed dead, the cubs were brought into rehabilitation (as reunion was not possible). This pair enabled the IFAW-WTI initiate the clouded leopard rehabilitation programme with the objective of rehabilitating these �orphans� back in the wild. After almost a year of hand-raising and acclimatization, these cubs were rehabilitated back in the wild.
In 2010, another pair of cubs was reported to be displaced in the Silonijan area of Karbi Anglong. The team, however, managed to reunite these cubs back with the mother. The last batch of two cubs came in 2012 and were rehabilitated using the protocols formulated with the first batch.