Sundari Celebrates Her Fifth Rescueversary!

January 13, 2022 | By Malavika Jayachandran
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Alone, abandoned, and surrounded by impossibly tall stalks of sugarcane – the possibility of survival seemed bleak for a young leopard cub. The cub sat quivering in fear as the slashes of sugarcane stalks being cut down echoed all around and the roar of tractors carrying away the harvests echoed all around like the roars of some unknown creature. Soon, the stalks of sugarcane fields were cleared away and her hiding spot was discovered. A collective gasp went around as all the farmers peered down at her. The young cub called out for her mother but there was no sign of her. In the wild, the absence of a mother meant that the survival chances of the cub were bleak. Yet, with the support of the team at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre, Sundari has grown into a healthy and strong leopard. Today, she is celebrating her fifth rescueversary.

Sundari is five years old as of her fifth rescueversary
Sundari celebrates her fifth rescueversary at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

Upon spotting the young cub, the farmers in the field looked around to see if they could find a mother leopard who would claim the cub to be hers. However, their efforts were in vain! After keeping an eye out for the mother for hours, the farmers finally called the Forest Department. The farmers hoped for a reunion of the lost cub with her family. Subsequently, the Forest Department set up a quick action plan to reunite the cub with her mother but alas! It was futile.

It had become abundantly clear that the mother had either abandoned her cub or had passed away. In this day and age where leopards face a multitude of threats ranging from open wells, ingestion of toxic waste, human-animal conflict, and poaching, one can never confirm what exactly led to her mother’s death. 

The Forest Department was now stuck in a dilemma. Though animals that live in the forest are wild by nature, it is a leopard’s mother that teaches the cub to hunt! Only a leopard can teach cubs to stalk prey patiently, avoid other predators, skirt around humans, and hone their instincts!

A Life-Saving Decision!

The Forest Department decided that the best course of action would be to send the cub to the Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre. They were sure that Wildlife SOS could give her a good quality of life. Our team at Junnar hand-raised the cub and aptly named Sundari, meaning “beautiful”. 

The staff at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre hand raises the young cub that was found by farmers within their sugarcane fields [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS]

Her preliminary examination revealed that she was not suffering from any ailments or infections. Th team vaccinated Sundari and acclimatized her to the environment at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre. The arrival of a cub is always a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, it is hopeful and exciting to give a new cub a second chance at life, but on the other hand, it is sad that the cub will never get a chance to live in the wild again.

Our veterinary staff and caregivers at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Centre gave it their all towards Sundari’s care. Their efforts ensured that Sundari grew up to be a healthy adult! The team socialized Sundari and introduced her to three other leopards, namely, Rani, Julie and Lila. 

From left to right, we have Lila, Rani, Julie and Sundari [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

Unfortunately, Julie passed away, but her passing went on to strengthen Sundari’s bond with Rani and Lila.

A little shy by nature, Sundari and Lila are mostly calm and prefer to laze around in the sun, rather than tackle each other in play-fights. The two are often grooming each other as they lay, sprawled under a tree. Rani seems to be the mischievous one in the group and keeps everyone on their toes with her unpredictable nature! As the life of the party, the boisterous Rani encourages the other two to leave their permanent perch under the tree and run around with her.

Her favourite pastime includes lounging atop her wooden enrichment [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Akash Dolas]

Sundari happily spends most of her days perched atop her wooden enrichments. She loves to survey her surroundings from her spot atop trees. She is currently in great health. We are glad to celebrate her fifth rescueversary and to be able to see her bloom into a strong leopard. Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to give Sundari a good quality of life!

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