A seizure of wildlife parts is nothing to celebrate. It’s 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.