Orphaned Female Leopard Cub Re-Introduction Project

'Dotty'

Dotty - leopard cub only weeks old

Tsavo - November 2016

On the 12th of May 2016 a small female leopard cub was brought into our Tsavo Trust HQ in the Kamungi Community Conservancy, which boarders Tsavo East National Park (TENP). She weighed a fraction over 1kg and her eyes had just begun to peel open and it was a further two weeks before she could properly focus and walk without bumping into anything. We estimated her age to be 10/14 days on arrival. She was not in very good condition and it was obvious she had been away from her mother for sometime.

The leopard cub had been picked up by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers while patrolling outside the northern boundary of Tsavo East National Park. It was suspected that her mother had been poisoned by local villagers possibly due to stock killing.

There were three possible options for her future;

  • The Kenya Wildlife Service Orphanage at KWS HQ in Nairobi, where they already have over 20 long term resident large cats and it would mean a lifetime in a cage.
  • To have the animal put down, this would be a last resort.
  • For Tsavo Trust to take on the care and attempt to reintroduce the leopard into Tsavo East National Park, giving her a chance to live a fully independent life.

We at Tsavo Trust felt that the third option was the most appropriate and therefore entered into a long-term commitment with KWS to attempt to provide this orphan with an opportunity to lead an independent and free life within the protected area of Tsavo East National Park. At the same time taking on board the many and varying challenges of such a venture – post release monitoring and Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) being just two of those.

This means a huge commitment for Tsavo Trust both financially and in terms of resources.

KWS have fully endorsed Tsavo Trust to keep the leopard, as well as to develop a small area within the National Park to carry out the lengthy reintroduction process.