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 system I had set up 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. I’m active at X and YouTube both using @jackkinross.