The Leopard Task Force has worked alongside various organizations and groups in the Nepal conservation sector to further develop rescue and rehabilitation of leopards.
Work is ongoing and collaborations continue with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, the Department of Forests, Nepal Army and Nepal Police as well organizations in the non government sector including Ujalo Nepal, the National Trust for Nature Conservation and Rapid Response Teams in Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (CBAPU).
Community conservation groups within village and district administration are also key to communication for successful leopard rescue and rehabilitation.
Several leopards have been reintroduced to the wild since the pilot program began in early 2014. As of mid 2018 there has been no known conflict situations after reintroduction.
Below are key elements as the rescue and rehabilitation of leopards in Nepal evolves:
- The rehabilitation of these predators means they can be placed into ecosystems where leopard numbers have been reduced due to human activity. There are several areas in Nepal where the ecology has been altered because of this.
- Orphaned leopard cubs or injured juvenile, sub adult and adult leopards are taken in to a temporary den area and are cared for until such time as they are deemed suitable for reintroduction to the wild.
- Minimal human contact is strict protocol except in the case of very young cubs which may require extra contact with an experienced handler.
- Circumstances differ but the optimum release age is considered to be in the range of two years of age.
- A soft release process is used whereby secondary den areas are used at the reintroduction site. This is to give leopards the opportunity to ‘home’ in on their surroundings thus minimizing the chance they will want to return to previous rehab den areas.
- A Non-invasive tracking system using micro technology is currently in development. The use of real time camera traps and other advanced technology are important aspects of this stage. Leopards are given much more freedom and encouraged at all times to act on their instincts.
- Monitoring will be ongoing and valuable data obtained with regard to leopard behaviour. At all times during the two stage process wildlife and human safety procedures are the priorities.
- Different locations have been used to rehabilitate leopards with specialized den areas built. Human access is limited to specialist staff and security personnel.
- An information protocol is being adhered to so that the safety of individual leopards is maximized. With poaching a major issue in Nepal all exchange of information regarding leopard den and release locations is now on a need to know basis.
This page will be updated in 2019 once a review of the process has taken place. Rescue strategies and equipment are facets that the LTF is working towards improving.