Wildlife experts have claimed that the practice of illegal trade has been flourishing in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh.
Mumbai: Eighteen leopards died in Maharashtra in the last two months, according to Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). Moreover, an unprecedented 106 leopard deaths were recorded across the country during the same period. Experts have stated that such a high number of leopard deaths had never been witnessed earlier in the first two months of the year, despite cases of poaching being more prevalent during winters. The state has also witnessed this alarming trend, according to WPSI officials.
On an average, one leopard has been dying every day in India since January this year, the WPSI data revealed, while Maharashtra recorded the second highest deaths followed by Uttarakhand. “The state recorded highest cases of poaching and road kill in the last two months. It is unusual for the state to record so many poaching cases in mere two months; in fact, the death record for the whole country in the same period is alarming,” said Tito Joseph, programme manager, WPSI.
The state has seen seven cases of leopard poaching, two cases of leopard skin seizure and four cases of leopard deaths in road and train accidents since January by March 1. Meanwhile, poaching and illegal trade of leopard parts accounted for 38 per cent of leopard deaths in the country. There were eight road-kill cases in these two months across India. “To some extent, the season could play a role in the high poaching numbers, as these incidents including illegal trade are found to be more prevalent during winter. Yet the numbers are scary,” said Mr Joseph.
Wildlife experts have claimed that the practice of illegal trade has been flourishing in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh. While experts maintained that poaching of leopards is more common in dense forests like Tadoba and Nagazira, the possibility of poaching activities in Sanjay Gandhi National Park cannot be ruled out. “First of all there is a need to fence the national park area completely. The park is also prone to poaching activities, even now. Even with ample forest staff, there is gap in the network of informers and forest staff, which need to be strengthened,” said Krishna Tiwari, a leopard conservationist.