Leopard cats being hand-raised at CWRC, India

Monday, March 30, 2009
Kaziranga (Assam), March 27, 2009: Two female leopard cats are being cared for at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC), run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare – Wildlife Trust of India (IFAW-WTI), near Kaziranga National Park, Assam. After their hand-raising, attempts will be made to rehabilitate them into the wild.
The first cat was found in Borpothar, Golaghat district, in February this year. “The Assam Forest Department officials collected it from the villagers and brought it to CWRC for hand-raising and care. It was about one-month-old then,” said Dr Rinku Gohain, consultant veterinarian, IFAW-WTI.  

The second, about three-week-old, was picked up by residents of Dhadhum Pathar, Tinsukia, on March 16, 2009, and was handed over to the Forest Department. The Forest Department officials assisted by Dr Abhijit Bhawal, veterinary surgeon of the Upper Assam unit of Mobile Veterinary Services (MVS), attempted to reunite it with the mother.

“We do not know if the cat was orphan/abandoned. It could be possible that the mother was out to hunt. We tried their reunion, and left the animal (at night) in the place where it was picked from. As the mother failed to turn up for two consecutive nights, we had to transfer it to CWRC,” said Dr Bhawal.

“Rehabilitation prospects of lesser cats like leopard cat depends strongly on the successful hand-raising of the young. Once they are hand-raised and weaned off milk, they will be subjected to a brief period of acclimatisation at the release site. The process is more or less similar to the rehabilitation of jungle cats. The only difference is in the rescue site selection, as unlike jungle cats, leopard cats need areas free of human disturbance,” said Dr NVK Ashraf, Director, Wild Rescue Programme, WTI-IFAW.

The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is found across India except in Deccan plateau and arid West India. Poaching and habitat loss are the major threats to this species, listed under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act.

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