A cold place to die…

Not the start of the year I wanted. A woman taken by a leopard early in the morning two days ago means we now have four monitoring areas at the moment, we’re stretched. The incident occurred while the woman was cutting grass (a term for vegetation collection, to feed livestock) in an area bordering Bardia National Park and the buffer zone. I don’t know the exact altitude (over 1000m asl) at the moment, I will when I’m at the incident site in a couple of days, it’s a fairly remote area and monitoring is problematic.

It pretty much always is problematic.

It was cold when the woman was taken. Decent December snowfalls in the Himalaya mean temperature drops we even feel down here on the lowland known as the Terai, where I’m based at the moment. Those of you who have been following my blog posts and/or our work at WildTiger know that 2019 was a hard year of human and big cat conflict, many human lives lost in our region which extends into northern Indian States. Add to this the figures and situation I’ve shown in the previous post, the amount of leopards dying at human hands and you can understand the challenge.

The goal is simple. Reduce the number of deaths on both sides. Increase the tolerance of both people and big cats for each other.

So 2019 ended badly for a woman on a cold day, now her family suffers. My plan for 1 January was altered, this particular case is complicated, I’ll be in the field, the two weeks after a big cat strikes are crucial not just to prevent another human fatality but to lessen the chance of retaliation. The raw reality of the situation means 2020 starts with no false illusions, not that my team or myself had any. We’ll do our best in each case as we begin a decade where hopefully there is a greater involvement and support to meet the goal.

I don’t usually go into too many details publicly when people have been killed by big cats, out of respect for those lost and those in grief. I will update (just what is appropriate) on this case however, we need people to truly understand why we all have to do better…