To social media posts in the last few days I’ve made myself as well as at WildTger it could easily have been added yesterday the leopard found in Baitaidi Distirct, Nepal, snare trap injuries most likely cause of death as well as a report out of Sri Lanka about the disturbing number of leopards killed there this year. We reported other cases yesterday from India and Nepal as it is. Quite honestly, I’m tired of bringing these reports, we don’t even report them all, not barely, they are an indicator of the problem and anyone landing on our online platforms easily gets the picture.
A couple of days ago the hypocrisy of it all hit home, again. It was World Rhino Day and like the tiger, the rhino is a donor darling as well as being a wildlife tourism favorite. Rightly so, both rhinos and tigers are incredible animals, both endangered and both deserving of all the protection and attention they get. As someone who walks the walk in wildlife protection every single day, and I’ve got current leech bites and other bites/wounds/scars to prove it, I don’t dispute the need for full on rhino and tiger conservation for a second, the safety of wildlife occupies my constant thinking. What irks me however and was again apparent on World Rhino Day, another photo opportunity event for many, is the hypocrisy which cries out with the same old line of protect the habitat of certain icon species means protecting all underneath, This theory is being increasingly challenged as resources in many icon species habitat areas are being plundered in front of blind eyes as well as convenient ignoring of species which don’t parade in front of tourist’s jeeps.
In short, if ‘umbrella species’ science is to be truly applied then the leopard should be getting hard line protection. The leopard has by far the greatest range of all the big cats, the amount of habitat which could be given far more conservation emphasis could be huge. Yet the leopard continues to be highly persecuted with many governments, the general public and a lot of high profile conservation organizations completely letting this animal down and thus totally pushing away the face of true conservation science.
These are scary times. The Living Planet report was clear in the rate of biodiversity destruction by human hands and the consequences. There are real solutions but something that strikes me more and more is the loss of connection and understanding when it comes to wildlife issues, people seem to have lost the grasp of what coexistence with wild animals really means, its importance for so many reasons and how because the situation is so fluid we must be far more reasonable and understanding, we must be much more tolerant of our fellow inhabitants. Coexistence with wildlife is fundamental to our very being, that is the line we continually roll out to the kids here in the ‘Living with Big Cats’ program.
The leopard is a beacon of this thinking but it is having its light diminished in brutal fashion. To see this happening to a superb animal I care about a lot is very difficult. I’m lucky in that on a daily basis I connect with good people who care, not least my own team. Overall however, the situation is precarious and while those of us on the ground, no matter how small our numbers, will do everything we can to protect every big cat and other wildlife we can, until there is far more understanding and support from the parties I’ve mentioned above, the leopard will be continued to be slaughtered and the hypocrisy will stink.
I thank those who do care, drop me a line if you can help (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’m full on busy with #AntiSnare, Ecosystem Reboot and ‘Living with Big Cats’ but I reply as soon as I can.