Cubs found in garden

The workers of the closed Bamundanga Tea Estate came upon a litter of three cubs in a ditch in the garden within 24 hours of an adult female leopard being trapped in a cage in the area by the forest department.

The foresters said the cubs were not of the leopard trapped in the garden early yesterday morning.

Bhagabandas Orao, a tea garden worker, said he had seen some movement in a ditch meant to drain rainwater this morning. He went closer and spotted the three cubs. “I thought that they would not survive as their mother had been trapped and released elsewhere. So I took the cubs out of the ditch and brought them to the garden factory,” said the labourer.

Yesterday morning, the estate dwellers were relieved that a female leopard that had been preying on domesticated animals and livestock for a few months had been trapped. The workers had been supplementing whatever income they had by selling tea leaves by raising and selling cows, goats and pigs.

The convener of the operating and maintenance committee of the garden, Shankar Guha Roy, had said yesterday that the adult leopard had preyed on nearly 50 domesticated animals in the garden and had been spreading panic in the area.

The workers’ belief that the garden had been rid of the big cat was dashed as the forest officers said the cubs belonged to a leopard still at large.

Tapas Das, the divisional forest officer of the Jalpaiguri wildlife division, said the cubs were all female and the leopard trapped yesterday was not their mother. “The leopard we released in the Gorumara National Park yesterday was not a lactating mother as she should have been as the cubs found today are just about two weeks old,” Das said.

The officer said the cubs would be placed in the ditch so that the mother found them and relocated them elsewhere. “If there are more predators in the area, we will lay the trap once again.”

The Bamundanga tea estate is surrounded by forested tracts and wild animals are bound to be found there.