|An Indian leopard on the forest road|
In India, during recent times, it has mostly been the tiger that has got wildlife experts and conservationists deeply worried for being threatened to extinction. This has been seen in numerous cases of illegal poaching and the wildlife trade, including the one which took place almost six years in Rajasthan's Sariska National Park. At that time, not a single tiger was seen and there was no other sign of its existence. It was later found that poaching had played a major role in the demise of Sariska's tiger population. It later went on to show how serious this problem of poaching and wildlife trade has and always been to India's biodiversity.
But there is another creature which has also been suffering the same decline as the tiger: the leopard. Like its larger relative, the leopard has also been the victim of poaching and the wildlife trade; even though it is one of the most widespread of the four species of big cats in India. The animal's range across the nation had also put it close to human settlements, resulting in man-animal conflict. This often leads to the leopard's death, in turn causing the population to further fluctuate. This had been seen in one case from the Banaskantha district in Gujarat when villagers cornered and beat a leopard to death after it injured nine people.
I can only hope that forest departments in every Indian state where leopards live will team up with experts and conservationists who specialize in the animals, and plan tactics in order to prevent the populations from further decline (Maharashtra has definitely been the focus of attention for its man-leopard conflicts). In addition to just capturing and releasing leopards faraway from civilization, they could also try to educate the public about the animals and what roles they play in the ecosystem. Plus, even help some towns and villages with some kind of security to keep leopards out without actually killing them.
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