With 218 deaths in just 4 months, Indian leopards more endangered than ever
Bengaluru, June 10: A staggering 218 leopards have died in just the first four months of 2019, and this number is more than 40 per cent of the total number of leopards death recorded last year.
Listed at par with tigers under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1972, the population of leopards faces a serious challenge due to various reasons, prominent among those are man-animal conflicts, availability of prey base and road/train accidents.
Out of 12,000-14,000 Leopards in India, almost 8,000 were reported to be around Tiger Reserves.
The trend of Leopard deaths hasn't been new, with data of Leopard deaths exhibiting a consistent graph. India has witnessed the highest Leopard deaths in the last 5 years.
One leopard died every day in 2018
In 2018, at least one leopard died every day and the cause of the death was either beaten or shot to death, ran over by train or vehicle in road or trapped in water bodies such as the wells, the data by WPSI shows.
The data released by the Wildlife Protection Society of India suggests that the Leopard deaths have increased over the years. While we mull over statistics of Leopard deaths in India, one thing is quite clear that is, Leopards are not our primary concern.
One of the biggest concerns for conservationists all across the globe, poaching has always been the biggest challenge to their conservation efforts. Although an illegal activity, poaching has been prominent in forest covers throughout the area. For the year 2018, 155 Leopards have either been hunted or poached across India.
Low conviction rate
The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 prohibits the killing of endangered animals and it is a punishable offence. However, the low conviction rate in poaching cases has ensured that the act is deemed lenient. The inefficient prosecution added with the insensitivity of authorities to act on it have meant that poachers roam free.
Accidents have been one of the deadliest reasons for Leopard deaths in India. In just 2018 alone 74 Leopards lost their lives because of accidents. Unlike usual road accidents, these accidents can be stopped by putting stringent traffic laws. Most of these accidents happen inside National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries.
Attacks by villagers
Wildlife conservation depends a lot on the cooperation of local villages around the parks and sanctuaries. The villagers act as eyes and ears of the forest authorities. Also, with the help of local villagers, authorities can deter poachers. However, there has been one hurdle, which has been causing problems for wildlife conservationists. The hurdle is human-animal conflicts. From year 2011-2017, there has been more than 2 lakhs human-animal conflicts in just Maharashtra alone.