Clouded Leopard Cubs Develop Up | India’s Wild Leopards

published on July 2, 2020

NARRATOR: Just when Sandesh
had all but given up

on finding a clouded leopard in
the wild, he had a lucky break

SANDESH KADUR: I heard about
these clouded Leopard cubs

being rehabilitated
back into the wild,

so I rushed to document
the whole process

NARRATOR: After
months of searching,

Sandesh finally had
his first encounter

with clouded leopards

[gentle music]

SANDESH KADUR: In terms of
filming a new species of cat,

I mean, this was it

This was the holy grail

[squeaks]

NARRATOR: A female
clouded leopard on average

produces a litter of
two to three cubs

With their mother gone,
these four-week-old orphans

need round-the-clock care

Only a handful of people have
ever seen wild clouded leopard

cubs, and this tiny
pair had a team

dedicated to getting them into
the wild as soon as possible

These cubs, just
two pounds each,

are vitally important to
the future of their species

After seven months of dedicated
care, it's time for the cubs

to start living in the wild

[dramatic music]

SANDESH KADUR: This is
a conservation first

It's never been tried before

NARRATOR: The cubs' new
enclosure is up on the trees,

giving them a safe
refuge from elephants,

and encouraging them to get
used to a life up in the canopy

In their new home, the cats
can learn the skills they

need to survive in the wild

SANDESH KADUR: Every moment
I spend with these cubs,

I'm learning something new
about clouded leopards

While most of the
small cats can purr,

only the big cats can roar

Clouded leopards are
midway between big cats

and small cats

They have their own
unique vocalizations

[grunt]

[chattering]

[growling]

[gentle music]

It's been about eight
months since the cubs have

been brought into the forest

And every day, they've been
taken around through the jungle

on long walks, and they've
grown accustomed to a lot

of the sights and
sounds of the jungle

They're still very much
like kittens, though

They haven't quite started
to make a kill yet

[scratching]

Their cat instincts
are slowly being seen

They're very arboreal

They love climbing
on trees, especially

fallen logs like this

[growl]

NARRATOR: Clouded leopards'
short powerful legs

have a unique adaptation

They can rotate their
rear ankles to climb

down tree trunks head first

They can even hang off branches
using only their hind paws,

giving them a leg up when
hunting in the forest

SANDESH KADUR: And hopefully
in a few more months,

they'll start making
their own kills

and living like wild cats

NARRATOR: After more than a
year in captivity, learning

to hunt and fend for themselves,
the cubs are ready for release

[growling]

The door to their
enclosure is left open,

allowing the young
clouded leopards

to return to their forest home

[gentle music]

[birds chirping]

SANDESH KADUR: I
would love to return

and found these cats when
they're back in the wild

NARRATOR: Though Sandesh may
never find these cats again,

he knows he'll be back to film
clouded leopards as they were

meant to live, wild and free

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