Leopard Poaching and Endangered Species in News
A recent study by TRAFFIC India on ‘common leopards’ revealed that of the total of 747 leopard has been died between 2015-2019 in India.
• TRAFFIC is a leading wildlife trade monitoring network across the world. It is a leading NGO working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
• Leopard census: The last formal census on India’s leopards was conducted in 2014, which estimated the population between 12,000 and 14,000. The results of a recent census of leopard sightings are likely to be released soon by the Wildlife Institute of India.
• The conservation status of common leopards is ‘Vulnerable’ in 2015 designated by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Leopards and poaching
o The paper titled ‘‘SPOTTED’ in Illegal Wildlife Trade: A Peek into Ongoing Poaching and Illegal Trade of Leopards in India’ also said that the highest numbers of poaching incidents were reported from the States of Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.
o Leopards have the highest protection under India’s wildlife laws but are facing threats of poaching, habitat loss and conflict with humans.
o During the period 2015 to 2019, there were more than 140 cases of seizures of leopard body parts in Uttarakhand, and about 19 incidents where the deaths of these cats could be directly linked to poaching.
o Among all the derivatives found in illegal wildlife trade, skin remained the most in-demand product, accounting for 69% of all seizures, while derivatives like claws, teeth and bones were also traded.
o It is also believed that bones of the leopard are possibly traded as tiger bones as they have a larger international demand for traditional medicines
• The Supreme Court has directed the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) to introduce African cheetahsinto the Indian habitats.
• IUCN Status: According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List, cheetah’s population is ‘vulnerable’ witnessing a decreasing trend with only less than 7,000 of them left in the wild globally.
• Status in India: The Asiatic Cheetah was declared extinct in India in 1952. According to reports, the last Indian cheetah died around 1948.The Asiatic cheetah is the only large mammal to go extinct in the country since Independence.
• Reason for Extinction: Cheetahs became extinct due to various reasons like hunting, destruction of habitat and human intervention. Wildlife experts say that for cheetahs to survive, a large area of grassland and a prey base are required. Around 7,000 cheetahs are now left in the wild, most of them in Africa. Being the mildest of the wild cats, cheetahs need special attention and care.
• Key Concern: The lack of enough area and prey base for the African cheetahs in Indian habitats. Low survival rates of cubs, animal-human conflict, are some of the other challenges ahead.
• If the cheetah is reintroduced, India would become probably the only country in Asia to have all the major big cats in the wild – lions, tigers and leopards included.
• Dhole wild dogs are one of the India’s top predators, found in Central Indian Highlands and the Western and Eastern Ghats. Indian wild dogs occurs in most of South Indian forest,Central India and also in the north east states of India.
• Dhole is a highly social animal and listed as Endangered, fewer than 2,500 adults left in the wild forest of India including Bandhavgarh National Park, Pench National Park,Mudumalai National Park,Indravati National Park and DibruSaikhowa National Park of Assam.
• India has the highest Dhole population in the world, in three key landscapes: the Western Ghats, Central India and Northeast India.
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Wildlife protection Act, Biodiversity act, National Parks, CITES, National Tiger Conservation Authority, IUCN