#WildlifeCrime – OUR SYSTEM IS FLAWED… How do we know it’s flawed? Because poachers, traders and buyers are acting with impunity.

Namaste, Jack here.  I’ve had a few people message me saying they want to read my blog but not at Facebook (fully understand many people don’t like to use Facebook) where I do have some posts that are not 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

Environmental crime is an illegal act which directly harms the environment.

#WildlifeCrime – OUR SYSTEM IS FLAWED… How do we know it’s flawed? Because poachers, traders and buyers are acting with impunity.
A Dutch court has just handled out a sentence of one year in jail to a man caught in possession of five rhino horns and four other horn objects. The man was caught by customs officials at Schiphol airport in December as he traveled through Amsterdam on his way from South Africa to the Chinese city of Shanghai. (From THE GUARDIAN: https://www.theguardian.com/…/chinese-man-caught-smuggling-… – I’m currently trying to get more information on the sentencing). Those of you who follow this page will know of the Jagari case here in Nepal, Pragati will have a follow up soon, there’s first up comment at wildtiger.org
Rhinos are keystone species, just like tigers, leopards and elephants. Globally our judicial systems are not recognizing the seriousness of taking keystone species out of ecosystems. My argument is that environmental science is not being applied to the overall process, perhaps we have now got to the stage where we have too many people involved combating wildlife crime just not fully understanding what they are dealing with. A one year sentence for smuggling rhino horns is a slap on the wrist as is the fine of few hundred dollars in the Jagari case.
Environmental crime affects us all and the mistakes we are making now are going to play havoc with future generations. Yes, perhaps I have seen too many dead animals but I’m witnessing forests emptying. If we don’t get tough now on ALL components of the wildlife crime thread including traders, couriers, buyers etc, this loss will continue.
My own feeling is that the Dutch Court should have had the capacity to hand down five years. Dreams are free but we need an international standard/guideline. More on these issues and the Jagari case soon.

#WildlifeCrime – It’s 2018, there’s no excuse for being naive on the subject

Jack here, namaste.  There’ll be an update on our ground work soon but in the meantime thank you for reading this post which I’ve also put on my Facebook page if you wish to comment.

I’m referring specifically to Pragati‘s short comment at WildTiger 

(Quick comment on arrest of kingpin wildlife trader in Nepal )on another recent arrest but most importantly concern at another case, the light sentencing of Sanam Jagari, a tiger poacher and dealer. Pragati, in conjunction with relevant authorities as well as agencies we collaborate with, will have an update on the Jagari case soon. As I’ve mentioned in the last couple of days the silence from stakeholders has been deafening but we’re asking serious questions regarding this case. It certainly doesn’t have the profile of the Premchai case in Thailand or the sentencing yesterday of Bollywood star Salman Khan in India but is no less important. It begs belief that nations can spend hundred of thousands of dollars counting tigers and at the same time, after lengthy investigations barely slap a known wildlife dealer on the wrist with a fine of a few hundred dollars.

 
I was up past 2am last night working on leopard poaching and big cat body parts seizure data. I’ve got another long night tonight. We’re building strong partnerships to get the right information to the right places, this aids investigation, awareness and change. Last night on a side screen while I was working, I was following updated media reports on the Khan case (just google Salman Khan if you’re unsure what I mean by this) and I couldn’t help but feel that in our celebrity obsessed, increasingly narcissistic selfie taking society that Khan’s sentencing is perhaps sending a strong message. But then as I wade through data, leopard skin, claw and skull images cluttering my desk, I couldn’t help but feel there’s no excuse, in 2018, for people not to be aware of the massive problem that is wildlife crime.
 
Sometimes, in all the campaigning and awareness sharing there seems to be blurred lines between activism and conservation, and as someone involved in leopard rehabilitation where some very hard decisions have to be made, because nature can be seemingly brutal and we have to simulate that, well I feel there is a lack of congruence within those blurred lines. But for everyone fighting on the ground for wildlife and animal protection the goals are clear. It’s just that above the ground, within society and sadly even within the conservation sector itself (read personal agendas), there is still a mass naivety as to the consequences of wildlife crime which is essentially the destruction of ecosystems.
 
Call it naivety, call it ignorance or call it a lack of care, it’s a hell of a problem. And the penalizing of a tiger poacher, now free after a short incarceration, of a few hundred dollars, points very strongly to that problem… and the lack of concern about it. I don’t think there’s an excuse for it in 2018, this is just an example, we’ll be bringing more.
 
There are people working long hours to rectify these things but we need the public to wake up and understand.
 

Understanding the leopard, it’s about attitude

Jack here, namaste.  This particular post is also at my Facebook page if you’d like to comment.

In the last few years some people have said to me I’ve become very species specific. I would usually just smile to myself as in many ways they’d missed the point. The leopard (panthera pardus) has adapted to such a vast range of environments, much more than the other great cats, that to understand the leopard in so many realms is an adventure for the mind as much for the body.
The last eighteen months lower down in tiger land has furthered my thinking as to the stresses the leopard is under in fragmented protected areas. It’s relationship with the tiger, other wildlife of the Terai and the people living there varies from relatively harmonious in places to not so. A beautiful young female spotted cat, her complete freedom so close now, grounded me further.
But when you’re someone who seems to thrive, become truly alive when above 2000m, it is the upper middle hills and into the Himalaya, understanding and protecting the cats that live there easily motivates despite the toughness of the terrain. In the upper reaches the leopard shares territory with the mountain ghost, the snow leopard. This relationship has long since fascinated me and while there is pop culture interest in the snow leopard, the secret lives of the mountain versions of panthera pardus attracts the attention of only a few of us. Moving Asa, the leopard of hope, into snow country, taught me many things, he adapted the way a leopard does, with attitude, with the toughness this magnificent species possesses.
Understanding and protecting the leopard requires attitude. As I prep for the remainder of 2018, with the help of technology, I’m aiming to bring more of the story of these mountain cats, in the hope it will further develop attitude to protect the leopard. It won’t be easy, up there it’s just not, but I’ve found the good things in life rarely are..

Project Mountain Tiger

Jack here, namaste.  This particular post is also at my Facebook page if you wish to comment.

As a leading authority on the subject, Professor Tej Thapa understands the situation and processes required for leopard conservation in Nepal. Tej states that for the leopard to be added to the Protected Species List there has to be cutting edge research to produce what the Government requires to make the change. Proposals have been constructed and particularly in regard to genetic analysis, we’re hopeful for post monsoon activity. More on this as it develops.
 
Another aspect gaining traction is public education. This has been used with success in hotspots, the district of Baitaidi where there was an alarming number of children killed by leopards is an example. Currently under the strong guidance of District Forest Officer Prabhat Sapkota this program continues with strong emphasis and while there have been tense moments there has not been a human fatality in that area for nearly a year and a half now.
 
On a big picture scale, however, there are still massive concerns with poaching as well as leopards hit by vehicles and killed in retaliation for livestock depredation. The perception and respect for the species is still at a serious low. Understanding of the ecological role of the leopard, indeed any top predator, is something that needs to be communicated more effectively.
 
Bringing in religious and spiritual elements has to be done properly and respectfully. Currently a long term concept we’ve been exploring in the Annapurna region is making ground. It involves working with a Buddhist community and is now at a stage where there is excitement and positive thinking throughout. Economic benefits through tourism are on the table but I stress strongly that is not about going out there and searching for leopards to gawk at. In the terrain we’re working in that is virtually impossible anyway. It’s more about education and understanding. Above all it’s about connection to environment and the understanding of the role of an animal nature has selected to be of vital importance.
 
I’m really looking forward to bringing more on this in coming months. In the upland regions the word “tiger” has a generic meaning and in countless interviews over the years where I’ve spoken to people who have had encounters with big cats in hill and mountain regions I’ve shown three photographs, one of tiger, one of leopard and one of snow leopard. Most fingers get pointed at the leopard, the tiger of the middle hills also known as the spotted tiger. The Nepali word Chituwa is the one we try to encourage but interestingly when it comes to spiritual connection, Buddhist Lamas have said to me the word doesn’t matter. This is where Project Mountain Tiger is approaching the relationship between people and wild animals with the view that regional, cultural and different religious perspectives can be a dynamic lead in to improved coexistence, where science has its place but not over riding the simple fact, we live with leopards.

#BigLeopardLittleLeopard contributing artists wanted

I’m putting out a call for contributing artists. Essentially it doesn’t matter what your style is, it may be paint, pencil, cartoon or detail, it doesn’t matter, there’s room for flexibility as different pages can accommodate different styles. I’m already in contact with a few people, anyone else interested can ping me at jk@wildtiger.org. Many thanks to those who are reading #BigLeopardLittleLeopard at my Facebook page, yes, humour is a key but it’s about the message and that can mean some of the “episodes” have a deadly serious delivery. The platform of a book is underway, it’s going to be something that can give a laugh, provoke some thought and will mean much needed funds. Leopards are highly charismatic creatures, it’s about time more people understood that and recognized the enormous privilege we have sharing space with them. Jai Chituwa.