Jack Kinross Updates/Blogs

If you are new to this website please go HERE for a brief explanation of Mission Leopard and this site. Fast link to ‘Touching the Mountain’ where you can give immediate support for our work is HERE.

Interim Update (25/09/23) – The Evolution of a Project

Hi Jack here, thanks for visiting Mission Leopard, go through the menu to understand our work and scroll down to link to updates from so far in 2023. This site integrates with WildTiger. Here, the focus is very much on panthera pardus, the leopard. This very short post is a precursor to a more detailed update later in the year regarding the Sacred Valley Concept (SVC) with the news for now that after discussion with managers of the Annapurna Conservation Area in the central Nepal Himalayan region, the Annapurna Leopard Project (ALP) has been given the nod of approval. The philosophies and thinking behind the SVC as well as adding the snow leopard and clouded leopard to the mix alongside panthera pardus, are all ingredients for an exciting way forward in community conservation, the use of technology and story telling that all who understand the importance of leopards can embrace. My thanks to those with us on this journey as we do our best to turn the tide for wildlife, people and coexistence in general. Protecting these habitats, for the benefit of all, has never been more crucial.

Main September 2023 Update – Despite everything, the leopard Thagu gives me hope.

The short video below gives a glimpse of Thagu…

We had set the camera in that spot based on prior knowledge of Thagu’s activity. This knowledge was obtained by tracking and a lot of dialogue with locals. You can see the tree stump that Thagu passed by, exactly as I hoped he would do. This gave me a reference point for Thagu’s height. You can see at the Sacred Valley Concept Page just how big and muscular these mountain leopards can be. As time goes by I’ll have more on Thagu’s dimensions, more about his life in general, for now I’m writing about what Thagu represents.

In many ways Thagu gives me hope. When dealing with leopard issues, hope is not an easy feeling to conjure. Over the years with involvement in leopard rescue, rehabilitation, rewilding, coexistence strategies, anti-poaching/trafficking and too many fatalities of both people and leopards, these big cats have taught me a lifetime of lessons. In previous updates and blogs, especially over the last decade, I’ve gone into many of these learnings but as monsoon and the hot, sticky conditions attached to it slowly exposes an end in sight, it’s time to be current.

The image above is one on social media (X Facebook Instagram) I’ve called ‘a place where a leopard lives’ because yes, Thagu passes through here, part of his vast territory I am slowly beginning to understand. The image was taken at about 3200m, Thagu as far as we can tell moves up above 4000m but that is based on livestock kills when herders take their yaks and goats to high pastures. There is much more we would like to understand about this strong male leopard but only in a way which does not intrude on his space. The few times that Thagu does kill livestock does not endear him to the incredibly hardy herders of this section of the Himalaya but this is where the situation gets pointed because it is the degree of risk and the level of safety which varies so much for leopards in South Asia.

Shrinking habitats, retaliation after the killing of livestock and the ever present scourge of poaching/trafficking mean many leopards don’t have Thagu’s life of plenty of territory with usually no human contact plus a prey base that is natural and plentiful enough. The trafficking of leopard body parts (and other wildlife) has been the rabbit hole I’ve been in these last few months, it’s a depressing element not just because of the sheer volume of trafficking taking place but the horror and brutality that is involved in illegal wildlife trade. There’s information at this site (Snapshot) and at WildTiger, it is ongoing and sadly seemingly little understood globally outside of those combatting it.

However, this is why Thagu’s life story gives me hope. He is living a life where the threat of poaching is minimal. Retaliation because of his livestock kills is also much more unlikely than in many places, both other mountain regions and lowlands, because there is a degree of tolerance based on Buddhists edicts that a certain amount of conflict in our imperfect world should be accepted. The recognition of the sentience of all beings is part of that philosophy but there are also simple economic and conservation factors involved. These I mention in different detail with regards to the Sacred Valley Concept but it is that word ‘Sacred’ which is incredibly important in Thagu’s survival because a lot of his territory is exactly that. Only a few locals are ever able to go into these sacred spaces and there are in fact areas where people have never been and never will under this thinking.

In our imperfect world where the threats I have mentioned above and in other writing are very much there for other leopards, it is incredibly important there are these sacred spaces where nature can be without the impact of humans. To understand Thagu I have been in constant dialogue with the local people, to work on the issues regarding Thagu and other leopards among us. There is still much to be done, stories to be told but there is one telling fact which beyond anything means exploring that connection between sacredness and coexistence, it’s that in this particular vast mountain landscape, unlike too much of India and Nepal, there have been no attacks by leopards on humans.

This is why I am determined to further understand and story tell of this place because it shows what is possible in the context of people, nature and leopards. We must keep it this way and take the lessons to other places so that people and leopards can coexist in ways where both parties are safer.

Deeper details in the next update regarding the Sacred Valley Concept.

Please consider being informed, involved, even giving a little help HERE.

Re social media I’m occasionally active on X and a few months ago relaunched my YouTube channel, please consider subscribing, it’s an easy way to help big cats and the people coexisting with them. In the main however, I really encourage you to keep coming back to this site for updates as well as general information being added. Before the end of the year it will be explained further how the snow leopard and clouded leopard are factoring into our work alongside panthera pardus, the leopard we all know but more people need to support.

My best wishes to all, Jack.

2 August 2023 – Leopard body parts trafficking continues as the big cat is targeted.

Please watch the short video at YouTube. I’ve written a short interim post below, the next update is timed for early September (update due by day’s end 6 Sept).

As mentioned in the video, Blood of the Leopard is the title of the wider bodies of work upcoming. Wildlife crime takes many forms but the trafficking of body parts under the direction of organized crime groups is still the deadliest and most negatively impactful. The leopard is a victim in numbers which really are a serious indictment in that the issue needs much more support in combating. Six months on from the publication of Snapshot Phase 1, the numbers of leopards killed across India/Nepal is at the same alarming rate and being traded through pipelines we are investigating. More on this in the publication of Snapshot Phase 2 which includes case studies in early 2024.

18 July 2023LeopardEye which is explained at WildTiger is evolving as conservation technology becomes increasingly important for both people and wildlife in shared spaces. Watch this space for updates on the tech and partners involved.

So many people still ask me about Asa. The full story is to come, Asa is an important part of my life as our all the leopards I’ve been involved with, especially through rehabilitation work. But the whole species is special, leopards are remarkable animals, they need our help. Please watch the video and subscribe to the channel.

3 May 2023 International Leopard Day – The Rights of a Leopard

Read HERE including more about the video below

15 April 2023 – Below is a sneak peak of the leopard Thagu. There’s background info on Thagu at the Sacred Valley Concept page.

As I mentioned in the short post on 4 April the killing of leopards for different reasons continues but it is another surge in reports of targeted poaching for trafficking confirmed by incidents of seizures which has once again caused great concern.

Snapshot is where you can get a handle on the issue overall but this current surge means that the next few months prior to monsoon, a prime poaching period as water holes for wildlife become scarce thus enabling skilled hunters to operate more effectively, need absolute focus.

If you can help please go here, your contribution (HERE) by buying a photograph or simply supplying funds will help to get more LeopardEye tech on to the ground where it is needed. You can see at the page how to stay informed by direct snippets of info too. If you’d like to help in other ways please email projects@wildtiger.org and I’m active at X and YouTube both using @jackkinross.

February 2023 – This is a revised version of two posts this month after the reboot at the end of the Year of the Tiger. A seizure of wildlife parts is nothing to celebrate. It is a dead animal, maybe many...