Wake up call – “What about us?”

A message from Jack Kinross:

The three images I’ve posted today here are related in the context of the message below them.  We’re about to evolve our strategies and format here at WildTiger, this will be detailed later in November.

Last night after teaching some tiny Tharu kids some wildlife stuff I went back to work organizing some strategy re Arghakanchi from where I have just returned, there is a serious man-eater leopard problem leading to brutal retaliation killings. While I worked I had a playlist going on in my headphones and Michael Jackson’s anthem ‘Earth Song’ came through. The words “What about us?” are repeated constantly through this epic track.
I thought back to a day in 2003 when I was at Namobuddha (3rd image), the place where an incarnation of the Buddha gave his life to a starving tigress so she could feed her cubs. My own journey has been very much dedicated to big cats, with the two in the other images playing major roles. But as I reflected on that day over 15 years ago I asked myself honestly if I thought we were making progress.
China’s decision to allow legal trade in tiger bone and rhino horn gave the easy answer to my question, a deeply concerning and deadly serious answer that is symbolic to a situation the world must wake up to.
We’re on the brink of ecological collapse in so many more places than has already happened. Not only does wildlife have the right to life to be decided as nature sees fit but the health of our own species is at severe risk unless the wake up call is listened to.
The leopards I attend to today, the tiny Tharu children I teach again tonight, I fear for their future unless their call of “What about us?” is heard by our generations. It’s now or never. We are all responsible.

Nepal Tiger Figures Made Public

On 23 September after postponements the Government of Nepal released the estimated tiger population figures based on the census conducted earlier in 2018.

A national figure of 235 was reached from counts from the following tiger reserves (2013 figures are in brackets):

Chitwan National Park 93 (120)

Parsa National Park 18 (7)

Banke National Park 21 (4)

Bardiya National Park 87 (50)

Shuklaphanta National Park 16 (17)

WildTiger will bring comment on the figures in due course. Speculation has arisen regarding the reduction in tiger numbers in Chitwan National Park.

A piece by Adarsh Man Serchen of the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (WildTiger Partner) regarding how forensic data analysis is shedding new light on tiger specimens confiscated from poachers can be seen HERE.

Uttarakhand proving deadly for leopards

Yet another leopard skin seizure this week in the northern India State of Uttarakhand has added to a deadly year for the species in the region.  Uttarakhand along with neighbouring State to the west, Himachal Pradesh, and the country of Nepal to the East, is central to a serious hotspot for leopard mortality.  There was a leopard skin seizure in Nepal within 24 hours of the latest Uttarakhand incident.

The Indian leopard (panthera pardus fusca) is suffering from poaching, retaliation killings (human-wildlife conflict) and habitat loss along the Himalayan belt.  WildTiger will bring a report on the issue in due course.  Seizures are only an indication of trafficking levels in a region where steep terrain and challenging climatic conditions make anti-poaching efforts difficult.

Leopard poaching crisis in South Asia

Panthera pardus fusca, the Indian leopard, continues to be persecuted in shocking numbers in South Asia, particularly India and Nepal. WildTiger will publish a report on the situation. Originally the report was scheduled for year’s end but such is the urgency of the situation we’ll fast track.

You can read about the ground level work of our sister group, the Leopard Task Force at wildleopard.net

Nepal tiger numbers

We’ve received several inquiries regarding the non-publication by the Government of Nepal of the results of the recent tiger census.  We’ll bring a summary of statements in due course.  There is considerable concern that there has been a significant drop in numbers.  Coupled with recent controversy regarding rhino poaching incidents during a claimed zero-poaching year plus continuing leopard body parts seizures (added to reported drops of leopard numbers in different parts of the country) there’s no doubt Nepal faces serious issues in wildlife conservation in general.

The tiger census situation is currently being referenced by articles in our Twitter feed @WildTigerNews

Update

We’re currently involved in a number of current case follow ups (several wildlife species involved) as well as separate reviews of a considerable number of leopard skin (and other body parts) seizures which have reached or are close to judicial stage.

The sheer volume of leopard body parts seizures are part of a huge problem which is not being adequately addressed.  Seizures only indicate a fraction of overall poaching.  We’re currently putting considerable emphasis on this issue and working with appropriate authorities and agencies.

With regard to the leopard situation we’ll be publishing a full report as soon as possible.

Is elephant poaching in South Asia on the rise?

A recent seizure of elephant tusks in Siliguri, West Bengal in India has once again exposed trans national illegal trade.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested two person and seized six pieces of ivory weighing over 9kg near a bus stand in Siliguri according to officials.

After acting on specific intelligence, DRI interrogation found that the ivory was smuggled from Nepal with the intention of delivery to a prospective buyer from west Bengal.

At the same time the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB) are following up an incident where a dead elephant was found with its tusks removed.  The incident occurred in Jhapa district which borders West Bengal.  The CIB have requested DNA analysis so that the link to the Siliguri seizure can be ascertained.

This case is one of several in recent times involving the seizure of elephant tusks in the region.  WildTiger is collaborating with the appropriate parties to further understand what appears to be increase in the poaching of elephants in South Asia.  Tiger and rhino are the two species where investigation priority has been given by authorities in the region meaning other species such as leopard and elephant have not had the same focus despite global pressure on both species.

Elephant poaching is Africa has received widespread publicity and trade in ivory products is being banned in an increasing number of nations.  WildTiger will bring reports on the situation as the dynamics in South Asia are further understood.

Case Follow Ups – Update

The case referenced above in the tweet by Pragati Shahi on 30 June 2018 is being followed up by WildTiger.  According to information received the poaching incident occurred during a claimed ‘Zero Poaching’ (rhino) year by Nepal authorities.  Currently seven of the 16 people accused are in custody while 9 are at large.

WildTiger is also collaborating with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in response to EIA findings of use of leopard bones by registered businesses in China.  There is concern that leopard bones have been illegally sourced from India and Nepal where the Indian leopard (panthera pardus fusca) is suffering from intense poaching.

When appropriate WildTiger will have updates on these cases as well as others being followed up.

Current Cases

WildTiger is currently involved in several follow ups of cases involving leopard body parts and rhino horn seizures. Pragati Shahi will update when appropriate.

Wildlife Crime Nepal – Tiger killed in retaliation ends up on illegal wildlife trade market, CIB (Nepal) make arrest

Report from Pragati Shahi

Early this month, Nepal reported poaching of an endangered wild tiger along a wildlife corridor joining the country’s two major tiger habitats: Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve.

Acting on a tip-off, a team of personnel from the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police arrested one person with a set of tiger hide and nine kilograms of tiger bones from Jarayotar Lamkana, Makwanpur district on May 6.

Twenty-nine-year old Chet Bahadur Waiba, a local, was arrested and charged with illegal possession of wildlife parts.

It is important to note that Makwanpur district has been increasingly becoming a hotspot for seizures of various wildlife parts, including leopard hides, tiger hides and body parts and recently elephant ivory.

The initial investigation has revealed that the tiger was killed about three months before the arrest, in a retaliatory act by locals, after the tiger killed eight livestock.

After the tiger killed livestock, a group of six to eight villagers bought poison from the market and laced the carcasses of the domestic animals.

The arrested man has claimed that he was just used as a carrier to transport the tiger parts, after the locals killed the tiger by using poison. The tiger fed on the poison-laced livestock carcasses and died, he said.

The initial investigation has further indicated that the tiger could be from Nepal and roaming outside the core protected areas when the incident occurred. The investigation is ongoing, the police said. The most disturbing finding from this investigation is two sets of tiger hides and bones were reported to have transported from Makwanpur, along with leopard hides.

Increasing human-wildlife altercations has been seen as a serious challenge and conservationists are finding it hard to tackle this issue that is taking toll on the conservation sector. And Nepal is not an exception.

There are frequent reports of attacks, injuries and deaths of humans by rhinos, tigers and elephants in around major protected areas. There are a host of reasons, including the increasing human activities, like deforestation, habitat degradation and forest encroachment, causing wildlife to come out of their core habitats and enter nearby human settlements.

A latest scientific report published in PeerJ on May 29 stated that Nepal lost 33,700 hectares of tree cover area between 2001 and 2016. In 2000, the total tree cover area in Nepal was 4,746,000 hectares, the report states. Chure and Tarai regions that serve as prime habitats to vital wildlife species, including tiger recorded the highest loss of total tree cover areas.

Nepal is home to 198 adult wild tigers, as per the last census report published in 2014. As a part of the global commitment by tiger-range countries, Nepal has committed to double its tiger populations by 2022.