Unlocking cases during lockdown… and finding out who really cares

An adjusted work flow is the reality for so many people around the world because of the pandemic, for me it has given an opportunity to follow up on many cases that are part of the scourge that is the trade in leopard body parts in South Asia. Making contact with the right people to get information is not always easy at the best of times so persistence is key. When you’re passionate about something persistence is easier especially if there is the drive of knowing it is the right thing to do for a species not getting enough help.

Investigation and judicial processes when followed up give good indications of how seriously cases are treated, that varies a lot, giving further indications of who really cares about such matters when it comes to the leopard. Alas, it is an animal which suffers from a lack of care and emphasis right through the chain. Not totally however, there are some good people involved, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s easy to strike up a quick and strong empathy with those people and in a short period of time networks can be strengthened. There are some truly dedicated people involved in combating wildlife crime, in law enforcement and other investigation sectors, and doing all that is possible for these specialists is vital.

It is that very dynamic which gives me some hope, getting the right people involved, as quickly as possible separating the talkers from the doers. The poaching/trafficking of the leopard is something that will only be reduced by strengthening these networks (anti-poaching/trafficking) and resourcing them, the expertise is there and there are certainly others like me who are driven to reducing the amount of these magnificent animals are being killed in snares, by poisoning and other despicable ways. I’ve also mentioned before that compassion for the species you are trying to protect has its role in conservation.

Poaching/trafficking of leopards is complicated, the players can vary from a solo hunter to vast criminal networks, this is one reason why every case is important to understand, the threats to leopards in certain areas can be countered with more efficiency. Every case is different however, poachers and traders are people and people are different. This is why it is important not to generalize, take anything for granted. There is one common ingredient though, it’s money and right now during this pandemic there are those who see the killing of wild animals as either easy money or of a way of economic survival.

This is why following up cases of even a year ago can be so valuable if it throws up information about someone who may be active now. Following up can tell the story if people were indeed locked up or perhaps weren’t and then there is the need to understand why not. A slap on the wrist financial penalty can be nothing when there is a lot of money to be made. This could mean the difference between life or death for a leopard or some other wild animal. That makes the effort worth it for the people who care.

Appended just before 5am the next day after a pretty much sleepless night working on LeopardEye and understanding a lot of information about poaching coming through in the last few hours:

And later, at the end of day, after some hot jungle work, some random thoughts appended:

Appended 24 May 2020, an acknowledgement for the help of the Katy Adamson Conservation Fund (KACF) for their help for the community team which works hard in anti-poaching and coexistence strategy. When WildTiger updates as the situation with the pandemic settles down there will be more on this team: