Saturday, September 4, 2010

130 Leopards Killed in India This Year

An Indian leopard in a residential area in Shimla, India

The year of 2010 has recently marked the deaths of 130 leopards in India. Many experts have described the figures as "alarming." Among the states, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Maharashtra have the highest count of leopard deaths. The issues varied from illegal poaching, man-leopard conflicts, road accidents, and even death by forest departments. Some have even died during rescue operations. This is truly an appalling situation, especially when the forest department does the unthinkable: shoot the animals on sight, rather than safely trap them and relocate them away from human settlements. Another issue involves an indigenous tribe native to the state of Haryana known as the Bawaria. According to Paramjit Singh, chief conservator of forests in Uttarakhand, some members of this tribe have been known to be involved in organized poaching as they happen to be expert. It is their area of expertise, and have nothing else to do. Therefore, the leopard population in India has dropped dramatically along with other known issues.

I'm deeply appalled by the factors that have been contributing to the downfall of India's leopards. But out of all of them, I personally find the forest departments' actions in eliminating the animals to be horrendous. Instead of trapping and relocating the animals, they are doing the opposite. In my opinion, it seems like a shocking case of desperate times calling for desperate measures in which forest officials are left with no choice but to simply shoot the animals on sight. This really creates a bad impression on the forest department, in general. The departments work for top organizations such as the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), who oversee all the dirty work of exploiting the nation's wildlife. And when the WPSI sees one of its partners kill a wild creature, especially an endangered one, it is almost as if they are betraying that partnership of helping save and conserve India's natural heritage. I hope that some solutions can be done, such as giving up the idea of shooting leopards on sight by forest departments and move to new alternatives. I also hope that this tribe, the Bawaria, can somehow be persuaded to give up the practice of hunting and be introduced in new safer areas to help make living. This way, the chances of India's leopard population plunging further will most likely be reduced.

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