Mission Leopard – Jack Kinross Updates/Blogs

Jack here, thanks for visiting the site. This is a short interim post on 5 March, after reading it you can carry on below for more info. Our strong current focus is combatting illegal trade in leopard body parts which is surging again in South Asia. However there are deep concerns with abnormal leopard behavior in Nepal, this being linked to the prevalence of canine distemper virus (referenced in the February update further down the page). Combine these issues with retaliation killings after livestock kills and attacks on humans and there’s no doubt the territorial dynamics for a species running out of room anyway due to human incursions through “development” are being seriously affected. As I’ve written many times before, we’re at a critical stage with all this, a species population crash can occur very quickly but the apathy around the welfare of individual animals is very much linked to that, this is where our very humanity is in question. I’ll update properly at the end of March regarding the territory challenges, both for the species and in particular, the leopard we call Thagu. I thank those who genuinely help. I’m at Twitter @jackkinross

Thanks for visiting Mission Leopard. Go through the menu to understand more about our work, help if you can, even if it just to sign up for information snippets at Be Informed, Be Involved. If you are new to my updates then here is a brief explanation About my blogs/updates/posts. Otherwise read the latest update below:

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.

Above are screengrabs from the last two Snapshots, you can read the 2023 Phase 1 version HERE. I didn’t expect to be writing an update again before March but the poaching/trafficking of leopards is such that the first few weeks of 2023 are a continuation of the carnage which has taken place this century. Seizures so far this year, mainly of skins, are at levels across India/Nepal that cause deep concern. Seizures cannot be celebrated even if poachers and/or traffickers are arrested, wild animals have been killed and always painfully. As I’ve written before, every time there is evidence of a leopard killed I ask myself how did that animal die? How much did it suffer? And in the cases of skins being seized I ask where are the other body parts, the bones, claws, teeth?

A recent scientific study regarding Canine Distemper Virus affecting leopards and tigers included information about the threats to the declining population of leopards in Nepal (view the study HERE) with poaching/trafficking key among the reasons and obviously the virus itself is a serious concern. My own recent work has given me better understanding that the cruelty factor in illegal wildlife trade in general simply does not get enough emphasis. In the case of leopards the brutality of death by snare, poisoning and other methods I have described in the past is virtually ignored within studies and media. There is a lack of care factor around this which concerns me deeply.

Hence my questioning, with cases pretty much daily, how did this leopard die? I hesitate to call the current situation a spike because it has been ongoing. It has meant however the need for even deeper resolve to combat the trade at every level of the thread. Coexistence problems can be met with rational effort, in the main people want to do their best to live among wild animals. Illegal wildlife trade is a different beast, in the main the people involved care not at all about the cruelty involved. I’ve seen too many leopards and other animals the victims of this cruelty not to make me question why there is not more effort from wider society to help combat poaching/trafficking. We must do better to change the consciousness regarding this in a frame where we must all do better for the leopard overall for the simple reason that this remarkable big cat is a sentient being is persecuted in a way that reflects badly on us. Yes, we must do better.

The three leopards who forced me to reflect in the Year of the Tiger

A new beginning. 1 February marks a year since the start of the Year of the Tiger and we are already in the new Lunar year which started 9 days ago. Those who have followed Mission Leopard in the last twelve months may have read my updates telling of another difficult year. Please read Snapshot 2023, it tells of the continuation of a situation not getting enough emphasis to combat. Three leopards ‘who’ came into my life within a short period of time pre monsoon last year forced me to look at my personal perspective on all this.

Firstly I thank those have read my blogs over the years, on different platforms I pretty much started at the end of the previous Year of the Tiger so it’s been more than a decade. Although most of that writing is still online at various places I’ve wiped the slate clean here, like I say, a new beginning.

Let’s get to those three leopards. The following is taken from some writing I finished a few days ago as part of a document sent out to people involved in the Sacred Valley Concept:

The image above is Ashi shortly before she died in my arms, I was massaging her trying to keep her alive before the only wildlife vet in our remote jungle area arrived.  The lights of the motorbike the vet was a passenger on were visible about one hundred meters away from the Range Post just as Ashi passed away. The young leopardess, maybe six months old, had sustained injuries from a fall into a deep concrete canal which had no water at the time. For the few days she was in the rehab station I had hope, I had managed to imprint in her to feed on small pieces of meat I dangled in front of her on a stick. I could tell that although she was confused Ashi needed the limited interaction through the enclosure cage, the little leopard was missing her mother. As much as Ashi eventually died of her injuries I felt it was also of a broken heart.

The image above is of a huge male leopard called Raja, it was taken with a live camera set up I had going to monitor his rehabilitation after he was badly injured by a snare. After a difficult and tense 10 days Raja was healed and strong enough to be wild again but the big cat was never happy about his short captivity, his plight brought home to me once again the problems of helping injured leopards, humans cause the injury in the first place and then the big cats have to deal with an environment very hard for them while they recover. I’ve seen leopards die of stress in these situations, it’s why we must do so much better to prevent such injuries in the first place.

The leopard above died before we could give him a name. The rescue team brought him in after he had been shot while in a tree. When he arrived I knew instantly he would not survive, I just asked that he be placed in a small enclosure and left in peace to pass away in our jungle location, he died within an hour. The unnamed leopard haunts my sleep. There is a whole story around him I will tell in detail when the time is right but the cruelty which surrounded his demise is something which drives me to prevent.

These three leopards came into my life within a short period of time in mid 2022. There were other leopards during the year of course, all different circumstances but I will never forget those couple of weeks when Ashi, Raja and the unnamed leopard typified the problems for leopards in our human dominated world.

My determination is that by the next Year of the Tiger in twelve years time we have greatly reduced incidents like these. Today and tomorrow would be much better of course but there is so much to be done, we simply have to get on with the job, hope that people understand and support these efforts so that magnificent big cats can live their lives without suffering at human hands. It’s possible, please consider helping make it happen…

Once again my thanks to those who actively engage and help. At Instagram and Facebook I alert when updates are posted here, at Twitter I’m more active. Next update in late March, best wishes, Jack.