The prime of life female leopard you can see here snared in a jaw trap didn’t survive, she died as a result of her injuries earlier this year in Maha. At the moment I’m in liaison with several orgs and individuals gaining understanding of the extent of the problem in South Asia. What we already know is that the situation is bad, in many ways it parallels South East Asia a few years ago where the ongoing problem has decimated wildlife to a degree that ecosystems are unstable. While there is effort from anti-poaching units to combat this considering the resources available, unless there is a greater degree of urgency, particularly here on the Indian subcontinent then the same outcome as SE Asia is inevitable.
At the moment there is a lack of urgency. I was shocked at the lack of reaction here in west Nepal when a small boy was badly injured after getting his hand caught in a snare. The child was simply performing a chore, out cutting grass for the family livestock. The incident should have caused outrage and intense follow up. Instead it seems snares are almost accepted and even if it is not condoned the situation is basically viewed as somebody else’s problem.
Having witnessed leopards caught in snares I’m aware of the brutality and agony of the situation so maybe I come from a deeper place of concern. Hypocrisy is truly evident however when those who talk a big game in wildlife conservation, many of whom ride the coat tails financially, show little or no care about the snare situation. Everyone is happy to ooh and ahh over nice photos of tigers but when it comes to a non money maker like the leopard being caught in snares, dying brutal deaths, there is pretty much a shrugging of shoulders and moving on.
For me the hypocrisy was heightened a few days ago when in my own patch I came across a lack of concern at the extent of broken glass in an area a tiger is now moving frequently. Those who follow my social media know we have a plan in place to hopefully fix this situation but once again it was an eye opener as to who really cares about what. I further felt the hypocrisy as we alerted a group of the ‘Living with Big Cats’ kids and enlisted their help in the clean up as well as educating them regarding the problem. I wondered just what right our generations have to educate anyone when we are so negligent and it was no surprise to me the kids were seriously concerned, something I barely see in adults.
The frustration is that there are solutions, it just requires concern and effort. Bardia is a place where it all happens, poaching, serious conflict and constant issues regarding habitat encroachment. There is also intense effort to protect the core area which has some of the highest tiger density habitat in Asia but this is being undone by the problems outside the protected area which in itself is difficult enough to maintain anyway. I’ll have more about those issues in a blog about a leopard called ‘The Boss’ soon, his story pretty much sums up the situation.
I’m not sure people truly understand the extent of biodiversity loss and the ramifications, there is no excuse not to and there is no excuse not to take individual responsibility. People who have been in this game a long time are shaking their heads at what is happening, that saddens me as I know the effort that has gone in. There are still gains being made, time will tell if there will be a groundswell of urgency and effort to recover and secure what is needed … and some of the measures of that will surely be far less incidents like the one in the image. I firmly believe vital top predators such as tiger and leopard have a future, it’s just that I’m not sure how widespread they can truly be, sadly I have lost a lot of faith in current generations really understanding the importance of all this. Time will tell, the only certainty is the next generations have their work cut out…