Back at my laptop at midday after my phone seemed to be vibrating all morning. More skin seizures and more conflict situations plus a lot of messages mean it’s just easier to make another quick update (this particular update is also at Facebook). On the ground it’s busy, Pragati is dealing with the seizure situation, Dr Bindu is attending the injured Kavre leopard and I just want to thank Nirajan Chhetri for some strong work in situations here in Bardia.
As I mentioned I’m delaying getting to meetings in Kathmandu for at least a week, there’s too much going on. Can I just ask that unless it is an urgent message re a situation or a genuine offer of help to please understand I won’t be able to reply immediately.
Perhaps these two images sum up the complexity of the conflict situation. Those of you who follow posts know I’ve been concerned about a young leopard showing behaviour traits similar to other cats that have made serious attacks (sometimes fatal) on people. In the first image Tengni Tharu stands beside the structure that had 3 goats killed in it after a leopard broke in. At this stage because of the proximity and the nature of the attack I’m approaching the situation with the thinking that the serious conflict leopard in the area was the one involved in the incident. We need further evidence so cameras and sign recognition will help with that.
The next image is the entrance to the school just metres away from where the attack took place. The leopard in question has attacked at least one person at this stage. Remember, we are simply primates and children like the ones you see in the image are simply small primates. Leopard attacks often involve children of this size. This is why the behaviour of this leopard has to be taken very seriously and everyone in the area needs to be aware of the situation, something we are doing our best to make happen.
Feelings about leopards are affected by these scenarios. As I’ve mentioned many times before leopards are not rock stars like tigers, elephants and rhinos, in they don’t make money, they don’t parade in front of jeeps. Leopards are secretive animals carving out an existence way beyond protected areas. They are not an easy animal to read, I currently devote my life to doing that, it’s challenging.
The best way to defend against attacks in village areas is to simply not give leopards the opportunity. The big cats are then forced to modify their behaviour and adapt, something they are very good at. However this is easier said than done, it does require resources and once attacks reach a certain level then retaliation is inevitable. Fear and insecurity, particularly when children are involved in areas where very low incomes mean less safety, are justifiable responses.
This is just part of the complicated puzzle when living with leopards. Things can improve with effort and resources. We’re trying to make that happen.