06 May 2010

Rehabilitated Clouded Leopards released back into the wild

After undergoing rehabilitation for a year two clouded leopard cubs, who had been orphaned, were radio-collared and returned to the wild by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and its partner the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).

The radio collars will allow rehabilitators to track the cubs as they learn to live independent of human care.

"We are doing everything possible to assure a successful transition back to the wild for these animals," said Dr. Ian Robinson, IFAW's Emergency Relief Director. "We are using expandable collars, and they are expected to remain for a year, if not longer. They will stretch and fall off due to normal wear and tear."

"Apart from occasional conservation surveys, there have been no initiatives to study this elusive and secretive arboreal felid. Unlike common leopards, the clouded leopard is a specialist inhabiting forest canopies and predating on a specific range of prey species," said Dr. NVK Ashraf, WTI Wildlife Rescue Director.

"BTC has been supporting this effort to rehabilitate these clouded leopards in Ripu Reserve Forest –a part of Manas Tiger Reserve- and we are eagerly waiting for the result. The clouded leopard is seen in limited numbers in these forests, and this effort will contribute in the conservation of this rare animal. The Council is very thankful to IFAW-WTI for this venture," said GC Basumatary, Council Head, Forest Department, BTC.

Clouded leopards are a nocturnal, tree-dwelling species found in India’s northeast region. Sadly it is estimated that there are only 10,000 remaining in the wild today.

Special thanks to IFAW for photos of these beautiful animals:

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Photo Credit: © IFAW/S. Barbaruah