Sunday, October 8, 2017

Into the conflict zone, bitten in the jungle but healing well...

I'm en route to a highly affected area regarding human and leopard conflict.  The past two weeks have seen a lot of tragedy in the area spanning mid west Nepal to just over the Indian border.  Four people have been taken by leopards and two by tiger.  Tomorrow I'll be in the place a local is from, he was caught with 3 leopard skins he was attempting to sell across the border.  The bottom line is people and leopards have to stop killing each other, so this is where we are pouring effort.

I got bitten by something in the jungle a few days ago but as soon as I knew it wasn't a snake I didn't think too much of it and still had over ten kilometers to walk out.  A couple of days later I could barely walk at all so I stopped in a town where I could get a room with a good cooling system and instant hot water... incredible luxuries! The relentless high humidity means infection is never far away and healing difficult so I'm very grateful to be able to get the body back on track before heading back into the field.

I've been getting more and more info from different people as they come across leopard sign across the country. Some of the info gives hope, some not so much as people say leopards have not been active for some time in particular regions. I've been thinking for a while about how we can get a coordinated citizen science program running with regards to this info, it could help establish a picture of leopard status and distribution which is a real challenge given Nepal's terrain.  More on this soon.

Out of respect for local people I very rarely post details of cases where families have lost loved ones in a leopard attack.  So my updates may be less for a while because of that.  It's sensitive stuff, there is a lot of trauma and emotion involved.  Human and wildlife coexistence here is complex and challenging.  I thank those who support our efforts to improve the situation, especially of late.  As I've mentioned before, it can never be perfect but it can always improve.