Rumour over finding three tiger cubs went viral on social media, forest officials confirm they are Leopard cats
Officers of the Forest Department have confirmed that the three cubs rescued from Laksam area of Comilla are Cheetah cat cubs and not Cheetah tigers.
After rescuing the animals on Monday locals have claimed the animals to be Cheetah cubs. Soon after, the news went viral on social media websites.
However, officials of the forest department have said, the cubs are not Cheetah tigers rather a close relative known as Cheetah cats.
The cubs were under the care of Laksam police station following their rescue from a paddy field and were handed over to the Comilla divisional Forest Department on Tuesday.
Forest Officer of Comilla Md Nurul Karim identified the cubs as a type of fishing cat.
To remove confusion over the matter Dhaka Tribune had sent images of the rescued cubs to Wildlife Conservation Officer of the forest department Zohora Mila.
She identified the cubs as Cheetah cats (Leopard cat) rather than fishing cats.
Zohora Mila said: “The cubs are very young and due to slight difference in markings it is hard to identify them; but they are not fishing cats rather they are Cheetah cats.”
Zohora has been involved in various research-oriented and investigative works about the wildlife of Bangladesh since 2008.
The Leopard cat
About the Cheetah cats this expert said: “The English name of Cheetah cats is Leopard cat. As it has black spots on a yellow coat, many mistake it for Cheetah tigers and beat them to death.
“It is like domestic cats, but very swift. They do not pose any threat to humans and run away whenever they sense the presence of humans so they are not easily seen,” said Zohora.
Zohora Mila said the cat is also found in India, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Russia and Korea.
“Though the leopard cats in our country reproduce throughout the year their main breeding season is from February to May,” he said.
They give birth to two to three cubs at a time. Despite the cubs remaining in groups, the adults go hunting for food alone.
They help human beings by eating animals such as small birds, rabbits, crabs, fish, toads, big insects and mice.
Leopard cats were first spotted in Bangladesh in the December of 2015 in Sylhet.
The Leopard cats were last seen in 2017 when a cat died in a road accident. There were no reports of seeing the Cheetah cats in Bangladesh after that.
The animals are going extinct mainly due to deforestation and the lack of food.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) has marked the animal as “endangered.”
These cats are protected under the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) law 2012. So, killing or harming the animals is a punishable offence, said Zohora Mila.
How the cubs were found
On Monday afternoon, Masum Khan in Chongao village in Kandirpar union of Comilla discovered the cats while cutting paddy in his field and captured them with the help of other locals.
He kept two cubs with himself and gave the third one to Arif Khan from the neighbouring village.
The news of the Cheetah cubs went viral on social media following which the Laksam police rescued the cubs and took them to the police station.
Laksam police station OC Nizam Uddin said: “The three cubs have been handed over to the Forest Department on Tuesday.”
Forest officer Md Nurul Karim said: “The cubs are about four months old. They will be sent to Dulhajara Safari Park in Cox’s Bazar.”