As many know here at the Jungle, even though we offer help, consultation, and homes to all native and exotic wildlife, our main focus is on the Asian Leopard.
A decade ago, in India, the population of the Asian Leopard was over 8,000. Today there are less than 1,200 left on preserves and in the wild. India is the world’s second largest populated country, projected by the US Census Bureau to be the LARGEST by population by 2025. What this means is that a decade ago, there were a lot more forests for the prey and habitat of the majestic Asian Leopard. With human encroachment comes the need for power plants, fields for crops, Water plants and of course.. housing. This entails encroaching into the forested areas and driving out the prey of the big cat.
The Leopard is an opportunist at it’s best. They study the “problem” and like all cats are observational learners. So if there is not any of their native prey, they will take the next easy target. MAN. And their choice is either a woman or a child as they are smaller and weaker. Sometimes they do attack men, but usually it is while the man is in a compromised position, such as a bathroom break, that they strike. When this happens the Leopard is attacked by an angry mob and either lynched, burned alive in a cage, electrocuted, hacked to death or beat to death with cane polls. The totals for 2012 was an average of four leopards a week (208 a year) but this total reported was for poaching only. Did you know that poaching is death to the animal? These cats are not being poached to be sold as “pets” nor for zoo exhibits. They are being poached for their body parts… a body chop shop. These numbers do NOT reflect the Leopards killed during human/Leopard conflict!
It takes a Leopard 18-24 months to sexually mature. The Leopardess will mate and carry for 91-93 days, delivering 1-3 cubs. Of those 1-3 cubs, there is a 50% mortality rate from natural predation. Of that 1.5 (statistically) cubs that do make it, they remain with the mother until they are 18-24 months of age. During this time, the leopardess does not seek to re breed. So that is 1.5 cubs every 18-24 months and they were killed at the rate of 4 a week!
So, 208 were killed last year, and now from January 2013 up until March 2013, the totals have already began to roll in. NINETY FIVE (95) have been killed by POACHING ALONE!! this year!!
AZA Zoo’s do not breed the Asian Leopard nor are they on their SSP (Species Survival Program) , as they only allow the breeding of the Snow and Amur Leopard. The AZA is merely an accreditation organization that sets guidelines that all their collective zoo’s must abide by or lose their accreditation. They are only allowed to breed what the AZA says they are allowed to as they are permitted to have so many species that is divided up among all the member zoo’s collectively.
The survival of the Leopard now falls upon the private sector such as us. The SSP is NOT the final Answer.WE ARE.