Keeping children and leopards safe…

Babu (Nirajan) with one of the posters which go on school and community notice boards, this one regarding leopard activity prior to monsoon, during the hot season. As I mentioned earlier, the fires affected the dynamic somewhat and already we are seeing the livestock depredation we predicted as leopards venture into village areas. The key now is making sure there is the utmost awareness regarding children’s safety. This morning I was in an area after an attack on livestock and thanks to very good work by the games scouts at the nearby range post with information I managed to track the cat and get an understanding of the situation. Talking to the families closest to the attack location and really hammering home guidelines for children’s safety will be followed up tomorrow with more of the same. I’ve got to admit, out of all the conflict types, it is the attacks on children which are the most gut wrenching, I have so many memories of this with cases over the years, a woman sobbing uncontrollably in my arms one of the most poignant after her grandchild was taken by leopard. It is why I feel the work must go in, it is coexistence in its most raw form as when children are taken the tolerance which up to then can be high simply evaporates and retaliation which is understandable given the trauma, takes place, sometimes on a mass scale where no leopard is safe. Prevention, being proactive is key. This type of conservation often seems totally incongruent with those who are more preoccupied with icon species counting and so forth. More resources need to go into these raw coexistence situations. Anyway, we’ve got cameras out, the team is determined and we’ll work with the CBAPU network to get guidelines in the right places and follow up with seasonal alterations. I wish we had the resources to really expand these operations, I know they work but it needs buy in from communities and it needs support from genuine wildlife lovers who care about people too, not just pretty pictures on social media. Just keeping it real…

Appended 26 April:

REGARDING COEXISTENCE GUIDELINES, THE NEED TO BE DYNAMIC… Yesterday Phil (a good boke) of Tiger Awareness asked about receiving guideline posters and over the months others have asked . At WildTiger we’re preparing different guidelines for download, that’s the easiest way and we’re also working on an app. It needs to be a dynamic approach though, the guidelines need to be distributed through effective channels and continually followed up along with monitoring systems. It’s 2021, things are fluid, the coexistence paradigm is ever changing. I get frustrated by what we referred to yesterday as ‘tea and biscuits’ conservation where there’s so much talk and a photo opportunity under a banner. Those days are gone, that approach barely works. We have to be dynamic, proactive and preemptive. In covid conditions this is even more important, unnecessary gatherings are killing. More soon as different guidelines are produced, the one in the image is in Nepali and English re leopard activity pre monsoon, just one factor but an important one right now, see yesterday’s post.