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Radio collar on leopard cubs

Kokrajhar, June 3: The two clouded leopard and four Asiatic black bear cubs rehabilitated in the Sanfan range of Ripu reserve forest in Kachugaon were radio-collared on Friday to facilitate post-release monitoring.

The clouded leopard cubs are the second pair of orphans to undergo rehabilitation in the country. They were found in Koila Moila in Chirang district almost a year back and taken to the wildlife transit home, Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), in Kokrajhar for hand-raising and rehabilitation.

The four bear cubs were rescued from different areas last year and admitted to the transit home for hand-raising.

All the cubs were relocated to Kachugaon forest division in November last year for in situ acclimatisation. The process is being carried by the Bodoland Territorial Council assisted by the International Fund for Animal Welfare — Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI).

“All these cubs have undergone six months of acclimatisation in the wild, which included daily walks into the forest. Initially, they were kept in enclosures at night, but now they are allowed to stay out overnight. The clouded leopards, being nocturnal, are in the stage of night acclimatisation. All of the cubs are now quite independent of the keepers.’’ IFAW-WTI veterinarian, CWRC transit home, Panjit Basumatary said.

To confirm successful rehabilitation, the cubs were collared for post-release monitoring. The monitoring will be carried out by IFAW-WTI biologist Anjan Sangma.

Manager and head veterinarian (NE) of WTI Bhaskar Choudhury said there is no set time for the animals to become independent. He said the second pair of clouded leopard has been avoiding the keepers for over a month now.

“One of the male black bears has also not been returning to the night stockade for the last three days. There are naturally individual differences in behavioural response of the animals. We will be keeping a watch out for them too during monitoring,” Choudhury said.

Clouded leopards are extremely shy, arboreal (fruit-eating) wild cats with cloud-like spots on their fur. They face threat from poachers for their body parts.

Kachuagon divisional forest officer Suvasish Das said additional staff would be positioned in Sanfan range to monitor the leopard cubs’ movements.


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