Leopard with teenage cubs spotted near waterhole in India. Look at the elusive trio

Roaming through the nighttime landscape, a trio of elusive cats moved stealthily. They stopped at a watering hole — and were spotted on a trail camera — before disappearing into the darkness.

The mother leopard and her two “sub-adult” or teenage cubs were seen in Gujarat, according to video footage shared by Prashant Tomar, an Indian forest service officer with the Gujarat division, on Twitter May 8.

Tomar told the Times of India that the trio of leopards were spotted near a human-made watering hole. The cubs were likely around a year old.

“The cubs are subadult and these may be the last phase when they are with their mother before separating from her,” Tomar told the outlet. “Leopards are territorial animals and not social cats who stay together. Usually by this age they separate from their mother.”

Video shows the trio gathering near the concrete corner of the waterhole. The cubs are on the right-hand side, and the mother is only partially visible in the camera frame. One of the cubs stoops and drinks.

The other cub jumps up and approaches the camera before moving out of view, video shows. Lying on the ground, the watchful mother appears to follow the cub — or something else outside of the camera’s view — as it moves around. The video ends with the mother and one cub still gathered near the water.

“Since the leopards were not disturbed they spent time drinking water there and left,” Tomar told the Times of India.

Gujarat is a state along the northwest coast of India. The largest city and state capital, Ahmedabad, is about 540 miles southwest of New Delhi.

Wildlife officials in Gujarat conducted a statewide leopard survey recently, The Indian Express reported on May 6. The last survey in 2016 estimated a leopard population of 1,395 — the second-largest population of any Indian state, the outlet reported.

The leopard survey is typically conducted every five years but was delayed due to COVID-19, the outlet reported. Officials will use a combination of real-time observations and trail cameras to estimate the population of these elusive creatures.

Although official data has not been released, some wildlife officials told the Times of India that Gujarat’s leopard population is expected to surpass 2,000 in this year’s survey.

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