Reunion with the mother: a successful rehabilitation strategy for displaced wild rusty-spotted cat prionailurus rubiginosus.
One of the common challenges for wildlife rehabilitators and conservationists is dealing with displaced young animals, needing intervention and help. Most commonly, such displaced animals are moved to zoos or rescue centers where they are hand-raised. In some cases, the hand-raised animals are rehabilitated back in the wild following suitable protocols. For young animals that are not injured or ill, however, reuniting them with their mothers in the wild might be the best option. There are few reports on such reunion efforts. We report successful reunions of 26 Rusty-spotted Cat Prionailurus rubiginosus kittens with their mothers in the period of six years in the Junnar Forest Division, Maharashtra, India. The kittens found by the villagers were examined for injuries or signs of sickness, and physiological parameters were recorded. If found healthy, they were placed in a plastic basket at the same location in the evening of the same day for a reunion with their mothers. In all cases, the mother cat was in the vicinity and took the kittens away after a brief period. The success of reunion effort was confirmed by direct observation or vocalization of the kittens combined with the presence of pugmarks of an adult cat at the site, or just by the presence and appearance of pugmarks. The results of our efforts show that displaced kittens of small wild cats can be successfully reunited with their mothers, provided that the time gap between separation and reunion effort is minimized.