Heart-warming video has emerged of the moment three 20-day-old leopard cubs were reunited with their mother.
Forest officials rescued the cubs recently. The night-camera video filmed on November 11 captures the moment the mother lifts the lid on a safe box and discovers the cubs.
Farmers of a village near Nashik, India, had stumbled upon three tiny leopard cubs huddled together amidst a dense sugarcane field.
They reported the incident to the Forest Department officials, who took charge of the three cubs, one male and two females.
Initial attempts to reunite the lost cubs with their mother were futile as she failed to show up.
The local Forest Officer, Sanjay Bhandari, reached out to a Wildlife SOS team at Manikdoh Leopard Rescue Center, which had years of experience in successfully reuniting leopard cubs with their mothers.
A Wildlife SOS team led by veterinarian Dr Ajay Deshmukh arranged for the three cubs to be returned to the field where they were found and placed them in a safe box.
After a long wait of several hours, the female leopard cautiously emerged from the forest and approached the safe box. She removed the box, licked her cubs happily and carried them by the scruff of the neck and vanished into the forest.
Officials, who were anxious that the missing cubs would turn their mother aggressive, were relieved that a conflict situation had been diffused.
Sanjay Bhandari said: "The villagers initially insisted that we take the cubs away from the area. However, they realized that this would provoke the wrath of the mother leopard in search of her missing cubs."