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

and

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.

Jack.

Join Us in Our Determination to Protect the Leopard

“Those who have never seen a Leopard under favourable conditions in his natural surroundings can have no conception of the grace of movement, and beauty of colouring, of this the most graceful and the most beautiful of all animals in our Indian jungles.” Jim Corbett

The legendary Jim Corbett wasn’t wrong.  That’s what makes this situation extremely serious, this beautiful animal is under constant threat in so much of its range.

Our online platforms are constantly evolving.  You can get the essence of our ground work by going through the menu while updates are on this page.  Don’t forget to follow our popular Twitter feed @WildTigerNews for news from leopard habitats as well as serious wildlife crime issues at WildTiger.

New for 2018 is another Twitter feed @LeopardLives which will alert you to updates at this page.  If you are a Facebook user then Living with Leopards will also give you those alerts as well a new feature, a news summary 2 to 4 times a month.

There’ll be another update this month which will include new strategy with Project Mountain Tiger as well as news on LeopardEye.

Thank you for caring about the leopard, you can get actively involved by holding a photo exhibition to support our work at Become a Leopard Protector and we’ll have more ways you can help the leopard as time goes by.  We are determined, we hope you are too.

Leopard Skin and Body Parts Cases

We’re currently following up several cases involving the seizures of leopard skins and other body parts.  This has meant a delay in our next project update, we’ll bring it as soon as possible.

Coexistence and Rehabilitation Progress but Wildlife Crime a massive issue for the Leopard

Namaste, Jack here.   We’re streamlining our online platforms including here at wildleopard.net as well as at wildtiger.org, hopefully this will be finished soon.  Many thanks to those who care about these issues and take the time to read these blogs and updates.  You can contact me directly at jk@wildtiger.org

As leopard skin (and other leopard body parts) seizures continue from West Africa to South and South East Asia, poaching remains a huge problem throughout most areas of the leopard’s range.  Although it’s good to be able to report progress in rehabilitation and coexistence (however still many challenges), the wildlife crime aspect does not make good reading for one of the world’s most persecuted and marginalized animals.

We’ll have a more detailed project update soon (as we finish streamlining our online platforms) including progress on LeopardEye, the technology testing that keeps me in the forest a lot but doesn’t hide me from the plight of the leopard as case analysis and database building continues the rest of the time.  Don’t forget to follow @WildTigerNews and the WildTiger site as Pragati continues her investigations.  We collaborate with several orgs and agencies, both gov and non gov, on wildlife crime issues, it truly has become a massive challenge.