Leopards in peril
Leopard numbers are declining across India due to habitat loss and fragmentation - like so many of their fellow creatures around the world, their very existence as a species is in great jeopardy. HSI has been working with Wildlife SOS to help the leopards that have been trapped and imprisoned for a lifetime and to improve their lives - but it appears that the situation has become far, far worse.
In the state of Maharashtra in India, where large tracts of forest lands have been replaced with sugar cane fields, the ever resilient and adaptable leopard has learnt to use the tall sugar cane spears for camouflage and often catches livestock for food since the jungles that fed them are long gone.
The sugar cane also provides the female leopards with the perfect cover for her cubs and provides sanctuary from natural predators. Unfortunately, at harvest time in the villages when the cane is cut, the tiny cubs and young adults are regularly exposed to danger. The villager' s reactions are swift and brutal. Although they often beat the leopards, sometimes a villager is hurt by the mother trying to protect her young. These leopards are then labeled as man eaters and the Forest Department is called in to trap and drag them away (if they have not already been killed).
The Forest Department always succumbs to public pressure and catches the poor animal, which is subsequently forced to live out the rest of its wretched life in a cell the size of 6-seater dining table.
We are now desperate to step up our leopard protection activities in face of a sudden increase in leopard/villager conflict situations.
With your support we can help stop the trapping. Wildlife SOS, our project partner, is running training programs for forest officials and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that they are adequately prepared to respond expertly and compassionately when a villager calls. If we can increase our outreach programs to teach people the need to co-exist with wildlife, we can prevent growing numbers of leopards being kept in trap cages.
HSI and Wildlife SOS are determined to continue making a real difference to the lives of India' s remaining wild leopards, and to significantly increase our efforts in the face of renewed pressures.
India' s drums of development are beating a message of doom for its leopards as their habitat is swallowed up, forcing them into collision with humans. HSI Australia and Wildlife SOS are working together to counter this tragedy.
Undaunted by the challenges of space and funding Wildlife SOS has continued to improve the feeding, provided medical attention, added enrichment to their enclosures and found suitable release sites for the leopards that are able to go back to the wild. They have conducted outreach programs to create awareness in the rural areas about avoiding encounters with leopards - and to explain the role of the leopard in the ecosystem - to help win back respect for this misjudged cat.
This work must continue and the pace of activity must now match the dangers facing these fantastic animals.
Your donation today will help us change these leopards' lives. Donate today