Today’s court hearing is incredibly important to help reduce the number of leopards and tigers being killed

A seizure of leopard skins and bones in Dadeldhura District, Nepal.

Warning, later in this brief post I’m giving a description of a brutal way poachers kill big cats.

The arrest (I’ve mentioned this at Twitter and Facebook) of high profile wildlife trader Kunchok Lama was technically for his role in the trafficking of 26 leopard skins, 5 tiger skins and 113kg of bones, a mixture from both species. The seizure took place in 2005 but there is of course a whole backstory from the intervening 15 years. The court proceedings which begin in Rasuwa today are incredibly important for the big picture, not just for Nepal but globally as it is rare wildlife trade criminals at the top of the trade thread get arrested.

Today will most likely be the beginning of another long chapter in what has already been a long process. Nothing is certain but there is hope of justice. Amid uncertainties there are however some events we know are happening. Right now somewhere across South Asia a big cat, most likely a leopard, will be struggling in a snare trap. The most likely scenario is that the poachers will be first at the scene. There is every chance they will thrust the end of a long spear into the leopard’s mouth, the cat will of course bite on the sharp edges causing excruciating pain and damage. The leopard will die a horrible death, one of several ways that big cats die when hunted.

The image is from a seizure in west Nepal a few years ago. It’s just one of hundreds we have on file, any one could have been plucked out and a story told. I’ve told many stories, too many sometimes it feels because it is not easy but I won’t stop because the incidents don’t, every day shit happens.

Today can help though, in a big way, if there is to be justice for some of the leopards and tigers killed. Today can help reduce that number of leopards, tigers and other wildlife dying.

So this is just a short sharp post but on a finishing note, and obviously this is a really sensitive situation, there is a genuine hero involved in this arrest, the tenacity shown to make this happen is truly admirable. For now there will be no public recognition, maybe never but the pure effort and courage shown was that of a person committed in the battle against wildlife crime. There are many unrecognized people trying hard. Yesterday while eating lunch with an anti poaching team at a jungle post there was nothing spoken by them of the hardship, of very rarely being with families, of patrols in extreme conditions, all for less than seven dollars a day. It’s simply about doing the right thing at a time when biodiversity loss is at crucial levels.

It’s so important the right thing is done starting today in a court room in Rasuwa, it has to send a strong, clear message that wildlife crime is being combated…

Appended late in the day, more updates soon:

And lastly for now appended 29 June 2020:

Appended 30 June 2020:

Appended early 1 July 2020

The spate of #leopard deaths is unlike anything I have seen before. Seizures indicate the far wider problem, retaliation kills have been brutal and leopards found in snare traps are continuing at an alarming rate.

I’ll update again in a few days. I thank those who care, please help if you can, details on the home page.

Later on 1 July 2020