IFAW India: Clouded leopards collared and set free
Last Sunday, I set-off on a mission to document the collaring of two rescued clouded leopards. The two orphans were rescued last year and spent 8 months undergoing rehabilitation provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and local partners the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) in collaboration with the Assam Forest Department and the Bodo Territorial Council. The radio-collars will help rehabilitators track the movement of the cubs as they become completely independent of human care and begin exploring on their own.
Since this was the first known instance of clouded leopards being rehabilitated and radio-collared in India, the collaring event was quite important. For me it was even more important as I had to post my first blog. I was a bit apprehensive as I hardly observe wildlife while I’m filming. Most of the wildlife I have seen has been through the viewfinder of my camera. When taking pictures, I don’t observe wildlife. My entire observation of the subject is from a photographic perspective – I am looking at the camera angle, the light, framing the subject, the elements to include in the frame. With all this running through my mind, I actually forget to observe the splendor of a flamboyant bird or the tantrums of a cub.
This was no exception. As my assignment was to take pictures of the collaring event of the clouded leopards, I thought I’ll divide my attention and observe, so that I can write about my experience.
I woke up to a cool and beautiful morning and started wrapping up my camera and equipments anticipating a good travel inside the forest. A cold wind hitting against me hinted the advent of rain. I was so disappointed to see the colour of the sky which was turning black as the wind grew fast. It was followed by a heavy rain for nearly half an hour. Anticipating the worse we started our journey equipped with all sorts of water proof sheets. We were hoping for the rain to stop by the time we reach the rehab site which was about 56 kms from Kokrajhar. There was only feeble sunlight occasionally trying to break through the clouds. I was happy to see the change of colour of the sky as we passed through a green meadow with the Bhutan hills in the backdrop. It was quite scenic with patches of clouds in the blue sky. Eventually the weather cleared up.