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India lost 260 leopards already in 2018, 90 killed by poachers: Wildlife body

Over the past 10 years, 1,593 leopards were poached across India, according to data by the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

india Updated: Jun 29, 2018 07:27 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
India,Wildlife,poaching
Leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.(HT File Photo)

India lost 260 leopards in the first six months of 2018 of which 90 were killed by poachers, shows data from the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).

These animals were killed for their body parts, said WPSI. Forest officials found remains of 55 leopards, while 35 were shot dead. Over the past 10 years, 1,593 leopards were poached across India, according to the data.

The WPSI said “better policing” could be a reason for more cases being reported. “The seizure of body parts in such large amount is testimony to strong law enforcement in various parts of the country,” said Tito Joseph, programme coordinator, WPSI.

“However, more intelligence-led enforcement is needed to proactively stop poachers from carrying out these activities. The rise in cases is also indicative of more demand from the international illegal trade market,” he added.

Leopards are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), under the environment ministry, said there was need for better intelligence in tracking poaching.

“More awareness is needed within reserved forest areas, wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and their peripheral areas. India has reduced the number of tiger poaching cases significantly through the use of technology by developing mobile applications. A similar focus needs to be shifted to leopards now,” said M Maranko, additional director, WCCB.

“A lot of this poaching is related to man-animal conflict,” said Vidya Athreya, wildlife biologist. “People are attacking, poisoning or killing leopards due to loss of livestock. In Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, people are going inside the forests to shoot animals for sport. As a result, these animals turn aggressive towards humans and are then termed ‘problem animals’.”

Anish Andheria, president, wildlife conservation trust and member of Maharashtra state wildlife board, said, “The figure of 90 confirmed leopard poaching cases is probably a gross underestimate. Electrocution and poisoning are quiet killers. These deaths generally remain undetected.”

WILD CATS UNDER RISING THREAT

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 10:50 IST