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| Last Updated:: 05/04/2016

Data Shows 1,664 Leopards Poached Last Decade









Statistics on leopard killings in the country in the last decade is shocking with the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) reporting that 1,664 animals were poached between 2005 and 2015.



Experts say that this is just the tip of the iceberg as more number of animals are poached as their skin and bones are highly prized in the international market.



This year, 46 leopards had already been poached between January and March while another 80 had died for a variety of reasons. According to WPSI, poaching and seizures were 125 in 2015, apart from the documented death of 271 animals. 



According to experts, in the last 10 years, almost 150-160 animals were poached every year. With leopard bones being seen as a substitute for tiger bones and its skin sought after in the global market, there is a huge demand for the spotted pelt and bones.




The WPSI, which works with government enforcement agencies to apprehend tiger and leopard poachers and traders across India, also investigates any unnatural tiger or leopard deaths, or seizure of body parts. A shocking 1,278 leopards were killed in 2000 alone. A large shipment of seized leopard skins and parts in 2000 accounted for the unusual spike in documented animal deaths.








According to WPSI, the figures represent only a fraction of the actual poaching and trade in leopard parts in India.



G Veeresh, wildlife conservationist from Chikkamagaluru, who has participated in efforts by both forest and police departments to catch illegal traders, says poaching is rampant and nearly 8-10 cases have been reported. On and off between 2010 and 2015, cases have come up with a leopard skin caught in Kadur police limits in 2010 while a poacher caught in 2014-15 in Aldur Range of Chikkamagaluru forest division.



Noted tiger conservationist Dr Ullas Karanth, Director, Science-Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society, India Program,  said, “It is almost 166 leopard killings per year. I do not find it shocking at all, given the population, size and distribution of animals across India. But I am not sure of the quality of the science behind these estimates. However, the annual number of leopards dying from natural causes (fights, starvation, etc) and at human hands could be a thousand or more given the extent of habitats and large populations in many places.”



Compared to tigers, leopards do not seem to have invited the same measures for protection. Dr Karanth explains, “This is natural given that tigers are larger, more dangerous and less adaptable to human habitations and intrusions. Their protection requires protected area focus whereas leopards occur much more widely and can subsist on smaller prey and domestic dogs etc.”




Endangered Species



Leopards are declared as endangered species under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and are also listed as ‘Near Threatened’ in IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.





Source: The New Indian Express