Spotlight On Jaya: The Lively Leopard Of MLRC!

May 19, 2023 | By Sutirtho Roy
Help us spread the news. Please share our lifesaving work on your social media.
[Sassy_Social_Share style="text-align:center"]

Nothing could be a more fitting name for our magnificent cat than “Jaya”, a Sanskrit word that means “victor”. This young leopard’s journey from being a helpless cub to becoming a confident adult is truly inspiring, and Jaya has grown to become the apple of her caregivers’ eyes at the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre (MLRC).

Like other leopards, Jaya is an excellent climber and watches over her field from the highest of trees. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

Let’s take a trip down memory lane with Jaya’s story!

Our first encounter with Jaya happened 15 years ago in the sugarcane fields of Rahuri in Maharashtra. Jaya was just a tiny cub then, found to be all alone. Rising encroachment of sugarcane fields into forested areas forced mother leopards to resort to alternative forms of foliage to protect their young. The giant grass of sugarcane crops serve the purpose to shelter cubs when the mother heads out in search of prey.

Stranded leopard cubs are frequently found in the sugarcane fields of Maharashtra. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

While harvesting the crop, farmers often stumble upon cubs nestled amongst the stocks, with no sign of an adult leopard nearby. Upon finding this cub within the field, all efforts were made by our team to locate her mother as soon as possible. At her tender age, Jaya would not have been able to survive alone in the wild, since she was entirely dependent on her mother for food and protection. Leopard cubs rely on their mothers till they reach the age of two, and during this time, they are taught the skills to hunt and survive in the wild. Hence, our first course of action was to reunite this offspring with her mother.

However, despite our best efforts, the mother leopard did not arrive to pick Jaya up. In such a scenario, there were two options in front of us: we could either leave the orphaned cub where she was found, with chances of her survival looking bleak, or we could bring her to an environment that ensures her long-term care. 

15-year-old Jaya retains her cub-like curiosity and enthusiasm, but likes to stretch out on trees for her cat nap in the afternoons. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

We picked the latter, and it could not have worked out better! When Jaya arrived at MLRC, we couldn’t help but notice how playful and active she was. Today, she continues to reflect these traits as a 15-year-old adult. Young Jaya  was introduced to Jiya, another leopard who was rescued as a cub, and the two formed a heartwarming bond.

While growing up at MLRC, Jaya formed a close bond with Jiya (in picture), who had also been rescued as a cub. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

We have seen Jaya’s acrobatic skills, and she is marvellously dexterous! Unlike what most can associate with a big cat, Jaya displayed wholehearted affection for her closest companion Jiya, and the two grew up together to become cheerful and healthy leopards. Jaya’s fondness for Jiya also included a sense of protection, as the former played a more maternal role in the relationship. 

After indulging in fun-filled playtime across their field, Jaya would affectionately groom her companion Jiya as they relaxed. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

Jaya would groom Jiya by constantly licking her face. At times, Jaya would invite Jiya to her feeding den to share her food with her. One could also hear Jaya’s soft, soothing sounds then. Jiya willingly responded to Jaya’s care by following her around like a shadow.

Found as a helpless cub, Jaya has now grown up to become a charming and confident adult. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

Over time, the pair became fun-loving pranksters. Leopards are mostly nocturnal in their natural habitat, but while growing up, Jaya and Jiya were most active during the early hours of morning, prancing around their field together!

Naturally athletic, Jaya loves to climb trees and can also be seen sharpening her claws on their barks. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

One hilarious incident that has remained in many minds was when one morning, Jaya’s caregiver arrived at the duo’s enclosure only to find that the bamboo installed there had been successfully uprooted by the sprightly adolescents. Another time, the Jaya and Jiya were found “camping” underneath the remains of a climbing platform after it was “attacked” and defeated by the two. 

True to the nature of leopards, grown up Jaya prefers to remain solitary, and can now be spotted patrolling her enclosure. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

As time went on, an innate tendency of leopards to go solo kicked in, and Jaya and Jiya were moved to their own, different enclosures. Jaya is a gorgeous feline and roams around her lush green enclosure with an energy no less than what she used to have as a cub.

Jaya makes good use of the enrichments installed in her field, and is especially fond of her hanging platform. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

Being an expert climber, Jaya has exhibited her preference to rest in high places. She elegantly makes her way up to tall trees and even likes to climb on the wooden platform installed at a height.

In 2022, we at Wildlife SOS celebrated the 14th year of Jaya’s rescue. The caregivers decorated Jaya’s field with a variety of goodies on her enrichments, from ice popsicles over their wooden platforms to pumpkins hung from trees.

Creating playful enrichments for our leopards serve as a humble effort to help our leopards remain as physically and mentally active as they would in the wilderness. Our aim is to provide the rescued leopards an environment that closely resembles their natural habitat. 

Just like any other wild cat, Jaya indulges in long self-grooming sessions as well. [Photo © Wildlife SOS/ Akash Dolas]

As we see Jaya looking at us from the top of her platform, she dons the majestic persona of a queen who is surveying all her subjects. Jaya truly is a “victor”, and we are glad to shower her with the attention and care she deserves.  

To sustain the lives of majestic felines like Jaya, we encourage you to consider sponsoring one of our rescued leopards.

Share With


Related Posts

Our Social Media

Hotline Number | हॉटलाइन नंबर

Delhi NCT Region +91-9871963535
Agra Region (UP) +91-9917109666
Vadodra Region +91-9825011117
J&K Region +91 7006692300
+91 9419778280