There are four leopards that have been killed every week in India in the last decade, according to wildlife group TRAFFIC. The new fidning suggest that leopards of India, just like the tigers may soon become a rare entity.
While man-animal conflicts is a reason for the increased leopard deaths, the major culprit are the poachers who kill the animas for their skin.
WWF, one of the groups behind TRAFFIC, said it was vital for India’s government to come up with an effective strategy to combat the trade in leopard skins.
“The leopard is among the most charismatic large animals in the world, and plays an important ecological role in the forests it inhabits,” Ravi Singh, the secretary general of WWF-India, said at the report’s launch.
“Any increase in external market demand could easily lead to a decimation of leopard numbers in India, but I am hopeful this latest analysis will provide the impetus to catalyse effective conservation action.”
The study found that since 2001, 2000 leopards have been killed by poachers to sell their skin in the lucrative black markets. The leopard population in India is currently 1150 and at this rate it may take less than five years to wipe out the entire population of this wild cat from India.
Poachers not only sell the skin of the animal but sometimes also sell the bones and other body parts as a substitute for tiger bones.
The TRAFFIC report also said that most of the leopards came from northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and National capital New Delhi was the main centre of the wildlife trade.
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