Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Devaliya: Home, sweet home for leopard cubs

Devaliya: Home, sweet home for leopard cubs
Times of India
Print Edition

Open Enclosures For Big Cats' Orphaned Little Ones

For seven leopard cubs in Devaliya, their foster home just got a serious makeover. From being forced to live in small cages, these orphaned cubs are now frolicking in one of the country's first open to sky enclosure.
The large enclosure was set up when the forest officials noticed that the small cages were not only cramping the energetic activities of the cubs, but also causing physical ailments. For example, some of these caged cubs developed hunch back.

"In order to provide the cubs with better and much healthier living conditions, we have designed the special open to sky enclosure for the leopards," said a senior forest official.

Forest department officials said those leopard cubs which were rescued when they were orphaned were never released in the wild. These cubs had to be kept in the cage permanently.

For staying in close small enclosure, by the time they grow up, the cubs develop hunch back and even their life span also gets decreased by three to four years.

"We were worried and hence, decided to carry out an experiment. The department developed a specially designed open to sky enclosure in an area of 1,250 sq meter in Devaliya park. The enclosure is surrounded by iron grills in the bottom with at least 5-6 feet of tin sheet and then again a stretch of grills.

This set up prevents the leopard cubs from jumping out," said chief conservator of forest (wildlife) R Meena.

Meena said the big enclosure will give the cubs a natural environment and space to move about freely.

"We can't leave them in the wild as they have not developed hunting skills as they were brought to the zoo when they were very young," said Meena.

A forest official said that Devaliya was selected for the experiment as this was an area where the six to seven lions were kept in an area of 35 sq km for lion safari.

"There are no chances of the leopard getting out because of the tin sheets. However, even if they somehow manage to get out of the cage, they can be easily located in the 35 sq km area which is again a forest land," he said.


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