Three baby leopard cats are the latest addition to the animal rescue group Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity.
The cubs were found in a local market and handed in to the centre one week ago, according to the deputy project manager, Lara Rogers.
“The cats are anywhere from seven to 14 days old. There’s no way to know when they were taken from their mum, but they’re obviously very young,” she said.
“It’s highly unlikely they are captive bred animals. They do breed in captivity but it’s not easy. They were most likely from the wild. Potentially the mother had been killed for whatever reason, or the mother was taken as a pet. It’s hard to speculate.”
The cubs, as yet unnamed, are being fed on a diet of milk seven times a day from 6am to midnight. They sleep between feeds.
“We’ll get them off the bottle soon because you want to handle them as little as possible. The more we handle them the tamer they get,” Lara Rogers said.
“When they become more active we’ll start introducing some insects which are good to swat and play with, and then we’ll introduce some live prey. Hopefully this will stimulate play behaviour which will get that instinct going and they’ll start to kill their own food. That’s the best case scenario.
“When they’re fit and healthy and close to adulthood, we’ll release them but at the moment we’re just trying to make sure they survive week one.”
According to the ACCB the animals are often kept as prestige pets.
The three leopard cats, two female and one male, are distinct from leopards.
“They’re a different size, species, genetics everything. Fully grown these guys are a little bit bigger than an average house cat. There should be leopards in Cambodia though. You should have the cloudy leopard and the standard leopard,” Lara Rogers said.
Bee-farmer and tour guide Daniel Jump alerted ACCB to the cubs. He said, “I got a call from a friend in Preah Vihear asking if ACCB would be interested in some leopard cat kittens. I called up Dave, the project manager, and he said, ‘Sure, we wouldn’t them to die’. So I accompanied them and showed the way.
“I’ve seen all sorts of animals for sale in the markets here. I’ve seen storks for sale, just last week I saw four or five turtles in the market.”
ACCB aims to rescue and rehabilitate native Cambodian wildlife and also operates as a research centre, working with locals to reduce dependence on forest items and to increase wildlife education.
It works with closely with the Ministry of Environment and the Forestry Administration.
Until last week the centre was the only recognised pangolin rehabilitation facility in Cambodia, and cares for injured pangolins from the northern part of Cambodia.
Last Friday, Cambodia opened a new Pangolin Rehabilitation Centre, making this the second such facility in the Kingdom.
The new centre is at the Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center in Takeo Province.