Local communities neighbouring Murchison Falls National Park in Masindi district have rescued a leopard cub left behind by its mother and fostered its survival. The cub was picked by Uganda Wildlife Authority’s Problem Animal Rescue Team from the home of Mr. Amon Busati of Kyarukunya village, Kimuru sub county, Masindi District. The cub was taken to Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre (UWEC) for rehabilitation.
Amon Busati said that they got to know of the existence of the cub after a wild fire caught up the Papyrus Swamp that borders his home.
“I heard a deep sound of an animal running away from the fire and shortly saw a young curb lying down and crying next to the burning shrub. It is then that I picked it up and brought it home and my wife started feeding it with cow milk,” Busati said.
For more than three days, Mrs. Jovia Busati and her family cared for the vulnerable cub and fed it cow milk. On learning about the cub, Uganda Wildlife Authority immediately dispatched a Problem Animal Rescue Team that picked the cub and took to UWEC.
She said that the Masindi community has been living in harmony with the mother leopard for a long time. “We have seen this leopard for over 10 years around our home but it is a very peaceful leopard that has never eaten our goats or calves,” she narrated.
The action of the Busati family comes at a time when Uganda is preparing to celebrate world wildlife day on March 3, 2019 under the theme Harmonious living between wildlife and people. The Uganda Wildlife Authority is grateful to UWEC for receiving the leopard cub and ensuring its recovery and survival.
– Leopard Cubs –
Like many cat species, leopard cubs are initially born helpless. By ten days old the cub’s eyes are open and its fur is showing spots. The leopard babies’ eyes are usually a denim-colored blue, which will change to bright yellow or gold slowly over the next 2 or 3 months.
The cubs survive on their mother’s milk for the first 3 months of life, but start chewing on scraps she brings back to the den around the same time their eyes turn yellow.
At 4 months they are out and about with mom, who must teach them the skills of any great leopard. They must learn to be quite and still before pouncing on their prey, and little leopards will practice stalking each other, as well as twigs, stones and blowing leaves.
By the time they reach 18 months or so, they can hunt and kill small game like rabbits and jackals.
But it takes a full two years for youngsters to acquire all the knowledge they need to survive. Some young leopards will even stay with their mother up to 4 years before moving out.
Leopards don’t need much water. They survive from the moisture they get from eating their prey. It is no wonder that leopards are such great hunters. They can run up to 58 kph, jump forward 20 feet (6 meters) and leap 10 feet (3 m) straight up, according to UWEC.
Leopards are classified as near threatened by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. This listing is due to their declining population, which is caused by habitat loss and hunting.
Visit UWEC and get to learn more about big cats and other orphaned animals under their care!