Poaching spike continues

We’ll have our next update early next month (July).  Currently our efforts are focused on combating the serious poaching spike which continues.

Project Update

Prajwol Manandhar, seen here (seated) with some of the team from the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) is a key member of the LTF.  Prajwol is about to lead the Kathmandu Valley Leopard Project – details HERE.

Posts over the next few months will include information on the Annapurna Leopard Project and the Bardia Leopard Project.

Support making a difference – Thank you Rufford Foundation

A big shout out to the Rufford Foundation for their upcoming support of the Prajwol Manandhar led project for the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal.  Wildlife geneticist Prajwol is an integral part of the LTF, a passionate and dedicated leopard conservationist.  This project is going to make a real difference, the Rufford Foundation are an organization consistently supporting wildlife conservation.

We’ll have more details on the project later this month.  One of our main focuses is LeopardEye.  Anyone who can support this ground breaking work which is already making a difference please email projects@wildtiger.org

China permitting commercial trade in the bones of threatened leopards while India and Nepal have rampant poaching/trafficking… join the dots…

On 25 May 2018 the Environmental Investigation Agency  (EIA) published a piece titled:

Chinese Government permitting commercial trade in the bones of threatened leopards

You can read the publication HERE.  Included in the text is:

The Chinese Government has allowed trade in 1,230.5kg of leopard bone between pharmaceutical companies – representing the bones of more than 100 leopards


Leopards are Asia’s most traded big cat and poaching to meet demand for their body parts, primarily from Chinese consumers, is one of the biggest threats to their survival.

More than 4,900 leopards have been seized from illegal trade since 2000 and this figure likely represents a fraction of leopard parts being trafficked. Demand for their bones for use in production of ‘tonic’ drinks and traditional ‘medicines’ is a major driver of this trade.

‘Legal’ trade in wildlife body parts is to a large degree connected to illegal supply, in this case the poaching of leopards.  The Indian leopard (panthera pardus fusca) is hunted in and trafficked from India and Nepal in large numbers.  These countries are two of China’s border neighbours  and illegal wildlife trade in South Asia is well documented as being a huge problem, a considerable threat to ecosystems.   Seizures of leopard skins and other body parts (especially bones) are commonplace pointing to a far greater problem with analysts (including ourselves) estimating that for every seizure there are 4 to ten dead leopards trafficked.  The EIA piece points to a “loophole in China’s Wildlife Protection Law which leaves the door wide open for commercial trade in endangered species; one of these allows trade for the purposes of heritage conservation.”

At this stage the scale of ‘legal trade’ is unknown but unlike the ‘tiger farm’ scenario which exists in China and other parts of Asia there is nothing of the same scale for leopards which do not cope well with captivity.  Therefore the most likely supply of leopard body parts for commercial trade is from illegal sources.

India has strong laws prohibiting the poaching and trafficking of leopard body parts but enforcement is often under resourced and the judicial system is slow.  In Nepal the situation is more problematic as the leopard is not on the Protected Species List meaning that investigation emphasis is not as strong as it needs to be and light sentences which prove to be little deterrent are commonplace.  Through our parent body WildTiger we are working with authorities in Nepal to address these situations.

The problems and solutions are two fold.  For leopard populations to escape free fall China needs to act quickly and effectively in ridding itself of the loopholes in its Wildlife Protection Law so there is no commercial trade.  Strict enforcement on this issue is required leading to more emphasis on law enforcement on what will then be illegal trade.  At ground level on the Indian sub continent the leopard needs greater protection from poachers.

In Nepal the  LTF is working with relevant bodies in law enforcement and the conservation sector to increase protection.  This is a work in progress but  there is a strong sense of urgency on our part.  Stronger anti-poaching capacity outside the established protected areas means the targeting of traders sourcing leopards in challenging terrain.  The addition of the leopard to the Protected Species List of Nepal is crucial as is greater emphasis on education as to the vital role played by apex predators.

This latest revelation by EIA (an organization we collaborate strongly with) is of serious concern.  If leopards killed in India and Nepal are then trafficked to China to feed a ‘legal’ market then the problem compounds an already flourishing illegal trade as leopard skin values continue to escalate.

This update replaces our intended report on LTF progress on solutions as shown in the main menu above.  We’ll bring more on project activity in the next update in June.  For now this latest issue adds to an already heavy workload.  We thank those who offer tangible help and support.  Our mandate is Action, that will continue.

Quick comment before next project update

By Jack Kinross

ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT – THE IMPORTANCE OF THE #LEOPARD… For all the problems, there is hope because there are some damn good people making real efforts, often at considerable sacrifice. I think what is lost on others is the sheer importance of the leopard in its role in the ecosystem way beyond protected areas. As the species specific approach on fragmented protected areas more and more shows pitfalls the concept of a more holistic strategy is gaining traction. This is where the leopard enters the fray. The leopard has an overall role far beyond many of the well supported icon species. For support people have to think “ecology” rather than cute baby animal and tourism sector dynamics, once this happens then conservation efforts can be far wider reaching. More on this in the next project update which will be later this month.  Please refer to the links in the previous post.

My best to all who care about this situation and making contact to get involved.