17 September 2022 – Many thanks to those contacting re leopard issues or if you’ve found this page out of interest. Really busy time right now, better protection for both humans and leopards in this complex coexistence always the goal, I’ll be back with a full update at some stage in October.
20 August 2022 – last post for a while…
THE COEXISTENCE CONUNDRUM…
Over the last few months I’ve had many intense discussions with people from all over the world related to the theme of coexistence. Right now I’d like to thank everyone who has reached out of late regarding human-leopard conflict and/or wildlife crime issues. It’s fair to say that these recent times have been of great learning on top of a lot of years in jungles, on mountains and connecting with many people in different ways.
Coexistence with wild animals is not really like in the image, the reason I’ve used it is to show that despite our differences, we have in common with all other species the fact that we share this planet. Rewilding/rehabilitating leopards is only the tiny tip of an iceberg of far greater than titanic proportions and as I’ve mentioned before, reintroducing species back into their natural habitat should be a last resort, we should be much more active in prevention of harming the web of life in the first place. We’re in a precarious position now where our own existence is dependent on such factors such as if we are prepared to coexist.
I really try not to presuppose but I think there are highly relevant stories in the way an individual treats wild animals. Unnecessary harm to wildlife is a choice some make to do. There is also the attached dynamic when the choice is to decide that because of safety or survival reasons whether it is necessary or not, in a given situation, to harm or kill a wild animal. This is the crux of where the whole coexistence paradigm is ruled by understanding which in itself is influenced by circumstance, mindset, perspective, perception and attitude.
There is a massive disconnect in understanding, not just of what is happening in the natural world around us but also as far as a well-meaning, shiny laptop user in a city relating to people who every day have to be wary of the big cats and other wildlife living around them. The issue is that biodiversity loss affects both parties, it affects us all, we’re all in this together, we all should be sharing responsibility for the health of the planet.
A leopard high on a mountain performs a function as well as having the right to be there. A leopard in a sugar cane field in the lowlands is basically just trying to survive, what of the rights of that animal and what of its function? Both possess highly valuable DNA needed for the continuation of the species, a species nature has spent many thousands of years perfecting.
If the eight billion of us really want to survive on a healthy planet then coexisting with the not many thousands of big cats left is vital. Eight million humans will soon be a lot more, the pressures on big cats and other wildlife, their natural habitats, will only grow accordingly. The deep conversations I mentioned in the first line are with people who understand this and are extremely concerned. It’s the not so deep conversations with too many others which worry me more, the lack of understanding of what is happening.
I don’t know anyone who actually wants to live on a degraded planet yet that is a strongly possible outcome, it does point to be well down that path. Despite everything, I retain a sense of optimism, I think mainly because the solutions are there. The right conversations can help exert the will for solutions, there are already many people with passion and dedication taking action. The key now is getting more on board.
That leopard on the mountain needs help, that big cat is at risk, the best way to deliver that help is to have the right conversations with the people living with that leopard but most importantly, help those people living with that leopard. If we don’t, that leopard will die, my learnings have taught me that which is why I look at the next twelve to fifteen years as crucial for that leopard, for all biodiversity, for all of us.
This will be my last post for a while, there are high paths my boots must tread for the sake of that leopard and those people. If you can help fund the tech it’s easy to contact me. The next time I write it will be about the importance of leopards, it’s sad that isn’t already known or respected, the treatment of these remarkable animals is the testimony, so it’s a conversation which must be had…
19 August 2022
REGIONAL EXTINCTION MUST BE TAKEN MORE SERIOUSLY… I’m going to have more later about Tau Sheri, the last known leopard in Kazakhstan who was killed a little over a year ago. Tau Sheri, like so many, had body parts missing when he was found. In the context of regional extinction, yet another country had lost leopards (there is now a project for reintroduction of Persian leopards in certain areas) but this issue must not be limited to thinking of numbers and nations. When leopards are wiped out or thinned from any bio zone, be it forest, mountain or whatever, there are negative ecological effects. Top predators are fundamental to many ecosystems, a prevalence of leopards in one area counts for nothing if they are regionally extinct in another. Reintroduction is an option but it should be the last resort. There has to be far more support for prevention of regional extinction and increased monitoring is key. I’m gathering information from certain mountain areas at the moment, hugely important ecosystems, the results so far are worrying. It’s not too late but unless there is change, that day will come. The leopard is highly adaptable and resourceful but not invincible, Tau Sheri a sad example of that…
18 August 2022
REFLECTING ON COEXISTENCE GOING WRONG, WE HAVE TO BE MORE HONEST AND SHOW MORE COURAGE … Yesterday while working in the forest on a component of the LeopardEye system development (live view integrated with deterrent LEDs) I was getting updates on two more cases, a leopard skin (along with red panda skins) seized in North Bengal and a leopardess with 2 tiny babies ripped to shreds by a snare in far west Nepal. I woke up often during last night deepening my reflection. We have to start bringing wildlife crime more into the coexistence dialogue. I’ve got an update pending on the statistics but the ongoing carnage is very much linked to lack of understanding because of the perceived adaptability of the leopard when in actual fact an animal which has many sub species critically endangered and local extinctions are on the march, is on a global downward spiral. This is becoming increasingly hard to take not just because of the lack of care about the situation but the ignorance (yes I use that strong word because it’s the right one) regarding how important these predators are. Apex in so many regions and subordinate to tiger/lion (being pushed out of fragmented PAs) in others, these remarkable ecosystem engineers are getting smashed. In too many places we are playing lip service to coexistence, it’s a fancy word on funding applications and soap box conservation when the reality is human and leopard conflict (and I include wildlife crime in that) is at deadly serious levels. There are many people who want to coexist with leopards but there are too many who don’t which combined with a wider apathy from beyond is increasing the challenge daily. My mandate is to never give up, keep finding a way and I will never stop because I believe we can do it, the bottom line is though our overall treatment of wildlife right this minute badly needs reflection, we as a global community have to change our attitude quickly, that starts with individuals looking deep within. Above all we have to be more honest about the reality and show more courage to fix it…
14 August 2022
“The leopards, then, enter human habitation in search of food and are killed in the most horrendous ways – snares, trap guns, poisons, et al. – often in agony for many hours and days before death releases them. There is a mistaken belief, amongst some, that the population of leopards is increasing. In fact, it is just that they have become more visible, drawn towards human settlements in search of food”.
The image and the paragraph above are from articles discussing the plight of the Sri Lankan leopard, the scenarios also apply in too much of South Asia especially India and Nepal. I’ll have the first podcast next month (September), it goes deeper into the issue and certainly reiterates that we as a global society are badly letting this animal down. Leading up to our report in February 2023, a detailed extension of Snapshot, the podcasts examine coexistence in ways that go beyond the constant political speak which influences big cat conservation, those narratives playing their part in issues such as estimated tiger numbers. Below are two links to articles from Sri Lanka out today:
29 July 2022
How was this leopard killed? What happens in a community when a child is killed by a leopard?
29 July 2022, International Tiger Day, the latest update is HERE– “Coexistence stretched… acting on solutions with key emphasis on more positive perspectives”. Notifications @jackkinross and please read below…
Previous updates and links to blog leading up to the 29/07 update are HERE.