“The Importance of Leopards” with Jack Kinross

Jack here, hello and namaste from western Nepal. When I’m not in the jungle or the mountains, I’m often writing. I’m usually writing about the jungle and mountains”.

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If you are new to what I write then maybe you can read:

I lived with a leopard, it changed me…

31 October 2021 – About the image below and its importance to our work

Those who follow my posts and our work at WildTiger will know that human and leopard coexistence faces serious challenges in parts of South Asia with fatalities on both sides. My own focus is very much on implementing solutions using LeopardEye (see page HERE) where it was explained that the image above was taken in real time at the exact spot a leopard killed a woman right on the boundary of Bardiya National Park (BNP) and the buffer zone, high in the northern sector. The terrain in the area is challenging and for some time before the tragic fatality, locals had been worried about leopards living close to human settlements. The fatal attack took place on the last day of 2019 so it was only a few weeks before covid 19 started to make serious impacts worldwide including of course here in Nepal.

Having spent time understanding leopard attacks in other districts in recent years, in which over 50 were fatal including many children, I have a strong take away that a lack of communication in communities regarding leopard activity is a major reason why attacks are of much higher frequency in those areas. As I’ve discussed frequently in previous blogs, and is the subject of a paper I’m preparing, the reasons for leopard attacks on people are varied and complicated. The common factor though, and a critically important one, is that so often there are indicators showing risk of attack is increasing. A key component to lessening attacks is to reduce opportunity in areas which become high risk. A major problem is that leopard activity is misunderstood by many communities and this can lead to either a careless attitude (creating opportunity thus increasing risk) or over reaction which can lead to unnecessary harassment of leopards often leading to dangerous situations.

This particular attack in the northern sector of BNP was another example as it only took us a few days to ascertain that several serious encounters had taken place in recent months some of which involved children either being attacked or being involved in dangerous situations with leopards. At the time I was still testing cameras which sent images in real time to different devices, the aim was to create early warning systems. The three key elements to create safety are explained at LeopardEye and I will go into more detail in coming months but I was encouraged by the positive reaction of the community in the area of the fatal attack when they received real time warnings from us that leopard was in the area.

To cut a long story short for now, the ensuing year and a half since covid reached the pandemic stage have been difficult in making the technical developments we need for LeopardEye but I am encouraged by the progress under the circumstances and we are now at a stage where we can roll out systems in highly affected areas. Over the next few months I’ll be spending considerable time doing just that including one area which has had far too many children taken by leopard in the last few years. Integrating technology, understanding of big cat behaviour and community (and other stakeholder) communication when indicators such as livestock depredation and encounters occur means LeopardEye saves lives of both people and big cats. Although coexistence can never be totally peaceful it can improve with effort and support, a lot depends on that happening for conservation goals to be met.

I’ll update towards the end of 2021 as we strengthen our focus on LeopardEye and once again I thank those who read, contact and support, we’re all in this together.

Currently I’ve got blog posts from the last ten years in an archive, you can access the most recent ones HERE before they moved on to this page as well as read updates and examples of Tweets which are at @JackKinross. The new blog format will evolve as this site transitions leading up to the Year of the Tiger.

30 September 2021 – Please do not touch…

Several people have messaged me about this now (today), 2 leopard cubs handled when found in a forest nearby. I can report that the situation is under control in that the little leopards are still where they are meant to be but this happens quite a lot and sometimes cubs, even with best intentions, are removed in the name of “rescue” when of course it isn’t. A mother leopard can leave even very small cubs for several days while she hunts, leopards of all the big cats have the most incredible survival and adaption skills, these are instinctive attributes, they don’t need to be taught skills in the way tigers do. Human handling of cubs though gives the possibility of confusion and rejection by the leopardess. There is also the huge risk that the leopardess could be concealed close by meaning the possibility of an attack by a mother simply defending her cubs. So much education is still needed on these issues, leopards have a hard enough life as it is. Please do not handle wild animals, report the situation to authorities who can then implement monitoring strategies to help nature take her course.

I can be contacted personally at @jackkinross and jackkinross@wildtiger.org