The Challenges of Human and Big Cat Coexistence

Human and Big Cat Coexistence has become one of the great challenges throughout the global range of the genus  panthera which consists of five species, tiger, leopard, lion, jaguar and snow leopard.

Our work is currently focused on the Asian big cat species particularly leopard and tiger where human fatalities can be the result of serious conflict leading to retaliation kills of the big cats.  Poaching is another issue affecting the coexistence dynamic.

This page is currently being updated as we transition this website from ‘Living with Leopards’ to it’s new title Living with Big Cats.

Below is a short summary of the challenges of human and leopard coexistence.  We are currently developing more content for tiger due to be published mid October 2019.

In a changing world humans and leopards now share space more than ever before.  The leopard is found in around 70 countries but has also disappeared from several more, its range is large but the space within that range is diminishing.  While there are examples of passive coexistence there is overall a growing conflict resulting in often tragic consequences for both people are leopards.  Below are some of the issues leading to coexistence challenges meaning an uncertain future for the leopard.

Habitat encroachment – The leopard has lost more than 75% of their historicial range and only 17% of what is left is legally protected.

Prey depletion and habitat deterioration – For a variety of reasons including climate change and human interference the leopard is left with less suitable habitats than their needs require. 

Lack of conservation emphasis – The leopard has fallen under the radar in most parts of its range.  Being a secretive animal which is difficult to study and get accurate census figures as well as the until recent notion that the species was not under serious threat has meant that governments and the conservation community  have not given the leopard the emphasis it needs.

Poaching – Leopard skins, bones, teeth and claws fetch high prices on illegal markets and leopard body parts use in traditional medicines also adds to demand.

Retaliation killing – where human injury/fatality and/or livestock loss have taken place and leopards are killed in retaliation.

This website is a work in progress.  Please return soon as we go into more detail regarding the issues above.  Read about elements of our human – wildlife conflict mitigation work HERE.