This is just a quick interim post as we make final preparations before working an area where a leopard has made three attacks on people in the last two weeks, incidents that sadly resulted in a fatality and serious injuries. The leopard is now considered highly dangerous and our aim is to put in safeguards. The location provides challenges due to steep terrain and recent high rainfall. Su Se La and Manju of the Coexistence Team have been gathering information from locals and making sure people understand guidelines to hopefully prevent further attacks. My role is to understand how LeopardEye can be applied in the area and then work with partners for effective implementation.
I’ll describe this in further detail when back from the field but technology used correctly is a real lifesaver. We’ve made strong advances with LeopardEye, particularly in the last few months and a major focus will be the further development of early warning systems. In mid February we’ll be appealing for support so community based monitoring can be rolled out further in highly affected areas and beyond, this will be done in accordance with local and national authorities. We do have an urgent need right now though so if anyone can help in the short term it would be incredibly appreciated, especially with this current situation, one of four main monitoring sites at the moment. You can contact me at my social media sites or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every little bit helps and I’ll keep saying it, people feeling protected means increasing tolerance thus reducing retaliation. In other words, saving lives on both sides…
Not the start of the year I wanted. A woman taken by a leopard early in the morning two days ago means we now have four monitoring areas at the moment, we’re stretched. The incident occurred while the woman was cutting grass (a term for vegetation collection, to feed livestock) in an area bordering Bardia National Park and the buffer zone. I don’t know the exact altitude (over 1000m asl) at the moment, I will when I’m at the incident site in a couple of days, it’s a fairly remote area and monitoring is problematic.
It pretty much always is problematic.
It was cold when the woman was taken. Decent December snowfalls in the Himalaya mean temperature drops we even feel down here on the lowland known as the Terai, where I’m based at the moment. Those of you who have been following my blog posts and/or our work at WildTiger know that 2019 was a hard year of human and big cat conflict, many human lives lost in our region which extends into northern Indian States. Add to this the figures and situation I’ve shown in the previous post, the amount of leopards dying at human hands and you can understand the challenge.
The goal is simple. Reduce the number of deaths on both sides. Increase the tolerance of both people and big cats for each other.
So 2019 ended badly for a woman on a cold day, now her family suffers. My plan for 1 January was altered, this particular case is complicated, I’ll be in the field, the two weeks after a big cat strikes are crucial not just to prevent another human fatality but to lessen the chance of retaliation. The raw reality of the situation means 2020 starts with no false illusions, not that my team or myself had any. We’ll do our best in each case as we begin a decade where hopefully there is a greater involvement and support to meet the goal.
I don’t usually go into too many details publicly when people have been killed by big cats, out of respect for those lost and those in grief. I will update (just what is appropriate) on this case however, we need people to truly understand why we all have to do better…
I write this on 28 December 2019, the image above just sent to me, more leopard skins seized here in Nepal, part of an ongoing crisis here in South Asia. From the year 2000 just in India and Nepal the body parts of over 5200 leopards have been seized. As we near the end of this two decades of carnage it is frightening to think how many leopards have actually been killed in this time. We’ll never know for sure as seizures are only an indication of overall poaching…. it could be 5 times more, it could be worse than that.
Our aim is to reduce the slaughter. 2020 is the beginning of a new resolve. So many of these animals die brutal painful deaths in snares or by poisoning. The marginalization of the leopard here in South Asia is a crime in itself, we all must do better…