|In the morning of 2nd April, a Monday, 15-year old Prem Narayan takes his cattle and buffalo into the forest for grazing. This morning he dares to go somewhat deeper into the forest than usual, since there the grass is taller and more succulent. As always, he looks for a shady place and attentively watches his animals and the environs. He is on his guard knowing that rhinoceros with their young also roam the forest.
Suddenly a big cat jumps out of a shrub, startled by the grazing cattle. Prem Narayan is scared out of his wits. He sees the cat carrying something in its mouth, but cannot make out what it is. The cat leaps away and in its rush drops something close to the little river without abandoning its flight. After it has disappeared Prem Narayan slowly and carefully approaches the river and finds a cub with its head under water. He pulls it out by the tail and takes it home.
When in the afternoon I am about to leave for the farm, I find an unfamiliar boy standing in front of the door. "I have found a tiger cub", he says. At first I don't trust my ears, but the boy does not look like he is joking. He is rather excited and suggests that I accompany him to his village to have a look at the animal. Without a moment's hesitation we get underway.
In the back courtyard of the premises a leopard cub is tied by both hind legs to a column of the house. All members of the household have assembled; 12-15 adults and children stand chattering around us. The cub has attempted to crawl underneath a bench and thereby tightened the strings to such a degree that it is not easy to unknot them. "What shall we do now?" I ask Bola, our mechanic, who is squatting beside me. "Let's first release him ", he answers. I lift the cub, and Bola unties the strings. We ask the head of the family if he wants us to take the animal along. The old man agrees with obvious relief.
Now we have a new guest on the farm.
He has sky blue eyes, is terrified and is so black and dusty, it seems as if he had been born in ash. Ravenously he licks the offered milk and devours a handful of raw minced meat with chicken hearts.
He sleeps on a straw-filled jute bag in a wooden box in which, more than 2 years earlier Aga and Khan, our two wild boar, had arrived.
Two weeks later he weighs 3 kg and already frightens his visitors mightily.