Sunday, March 19, 2017

Leopards are in trouble, every one is precious...

Just a quick post re the leopard Dipnani, there's been a few messages. I'll update when she's safely in next location, Dipnani is OK, it's certainly going to be a challenging rehab.

I thank those who genuinely care...

Essentially leopard conservation has three main fronts; coexistence, rehabilitation (including rescue, rewilding etc) and wildlife crime. The factors are connected of course while each having their own set of challenges. Leopards are really up against it in virtually all their range. Dipnani is being treated within the philosophy that every one is precious...

Many thanks to those who follow this blog.  For the next little while I'll be updating at Facebook mainly as there are signal difficulties here in this jungle area.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The importance of technology in anti-poaching...


This is something I'll touch on in more detail later but digital technology has become a vital tool in wildlife protection. The magnificent animal in the clip was under close surveillance as it ventured close to human settlement, not from just digital eyes, but human eyes too as cameras played their role. Increasing capacity is a crucial component for the right people working on the ground to do their jobs. 

So poachers, and anyone else disturbing wildlife unnecessarily, are getting caught.

Traffickers/traders, who employ or buy off poachers are key elements needing a lot more focus. That is starting to happen with greater intensity, take out the middlemen and the house of cards weakens. However far more resources are needed to combat traffickers.  Wildlife protection has many fronts, at different times there has to be different emphasis, but there is one constant... that it never stops...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The sadness of the conflict leopard...

“As I looked into the leopard’s eyes I wasn’t sure who was sadder, him or me”
The day had been going quite well really. I’d got a lot of laptop work done, caught up on a lot of communications. I’d even made several posts on Facebook, stuff I wanted to get off my chest, stuff I wanted people to know about. There was a couple of hours spent with the Rapid Response Team and a beekeeper from Gulariya, a lot of knowledge shared and further progress in our biological fence project.
Then there was an early afternoon visit from Bernd, a good friend who is a regular visitor to and strong supporter of Bardia. Sunil then doubled me on the motorbike to the welder who is building part of the den for the juvenile leopard, Dipnani, as she goes into rehabilitation. A chance meeting and chat with Khageshwor, another friend and jungle guide I have known for many years meant a cup at Tiger Chowk.
The wonderful light that is Bardia late afternoon at this time of the year greeted me as I entered Park HQ, some friendly banter with members of the CBAPU (Community Based Anti Poaching Unit) was fun before I went to check Dipnani. The very feisty female leopard was in typical high growl mood so after a quick appraisal I moved on to the general wildlife rescue centre under construction.
I have written before about the strong adult male leopard in captivity after a long stint of attacks on livestock. His behaviour and some injuries has meant release is not on the cards. Those who follow these blogs will know of my vision for a specialist leopard rehab unit and Dipnani is now very much integral to the progress of that. She is in isolation and will soon be in a confidential area especially chosen for her rehab.
The leopard you see in the image, the conflict male, is one of many dotted through south Asia, in captive situations due to human-leopard conflict. Humans and leopards sharing habitat is a fact of life here. It is a coexistence which can mean tragedy on both sides if not treated very carefully. Recently published data of the poaching of leopards in India this year alone is alarming and here in Nepal where the terrain makes it much more difficult to monitor these things, there is concern. It is a concern I have daily (and often through the night) and coupled with the conflict situations there is a deepening uncertainty about the future for the leopard. Many will argue that the numbers are high enough for the species not to be at risk but they are generally people who have no concept of how quickly populations can plummet. Once, not that long ago, there were many tigers...
So to me, at least, that makes every leopard precious. My own connection to these animals goes back a while now but that doesn’t make it any easier when in fading light I see this majestic animal caged, his predatory senses in conflict with his captivity. I have no argument that he cannot be released, it’s too risky. He is an innocent victim in that he decided goats and sheep, many goats and sheep, were to be his fare and his behaviour became such that he was high risk to stay wild. This is a tough gig when you really care about leopards and as I looked into the leopard’s eyes I wasn’t sure who was sadder, him or me.
It’s at times like this you have to dig deep. His eyes, those deep piercing stares, cannot betray his sadness but rather than dwell on it I know personally I have to harness the energy from this situation for future leopards, so we can improve strategies and resources, do our best to make sure that leopards have lives where they belong. So this male conflict leopard motivates me to do better and I’ll do my best to make sure that maybe there is a sanctuary situation for him too. But of all the “R words” involved in this, rescue, rehabilitation and rewilding, the one I want to always have as my focus is “release” ... whenever possible. The sadness of the conflict leopard coupled with the determination of those who really care about these animals, can bring change.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Tiger farming raises issue of wildlife farming in general...

Via @WildTigerNews

Controversial policy could spur tiger trade in China

There's a couple of key paragraphs in this article. First though, I reaffirm that WildTiger totally endorses EIA's (Environmental Investigation Agency) stance on this issue, we've been a signatory at high level conferences. Wildlife farming is a burning issue globally and while obviously there is beneficial provision for prey species growth and reintroduction (among others, including rewilding) there are too many loopholes and soft regulating. Political and commercial agendas are to the fore.
There is effort being made in China to end the practice of tiger farming - from the article "Meanwhile, the tiger farming issue has been raised, possibly for the first time ever, at yearly high-level meetings in Bejing. Yuan Xikun, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, introduced a resolution requesting that commercial tiger breeding facilities be closed down, citing the negative impact on wild tiger conservation, damage to the country’s reputation and multiple violations of national laws."
BUT this next paragraph is key, not just to the China situation but to the practice of wildlife farming globally:
"Provisions within the country’s new Wildlife Protection Law refer to captive breeding and “utilization” of wildlife. But the law, which was enacted in January, does not specify which protected species can be “utilized”— legally sold — within China. The forestry administration is currently drawing up that list, says Debbie Banks, a tiger expert with the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)."

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Latest leopard rehab, quick update...

Only just got back online after about 15 hours, there are several messages re the latest leopard rehab. There'll be an update when appropriate but the juvenile leopard, Dipnani, is in isolation and will be going into Stage 2 of the program soon. It's raining here at the moment, that complicates things, but hey, it's Nepal, nothing is easy here, all part of the gig. Thanks to those who care, cheers Jack.

Friday, March 3, 2017

The vital role of community in anti-poaching...

Cbapu Bardia DAY IS SOMETHING SPECIAL... It was great to have time out yesterday at the annual Community Based Anti-Poaching Unit (CBAPU) day at Janaknagar. Particularly relevant on World Wildlife Day is understanding the role of communities, those actually living with wildlife. Yesterday's event was in an area which had seen rhino poaching problems in the past so staging the event there this year was important strategy, part of sound thinking by National Park staff, the military anti-poaching team and CBAPU. Congratulations again to everyone involved, I'll post more images later. There is so much energy and thought going into dealing with these issues at community level, this is real conservation and while there are still many challenges, Bardia is showing a way forward.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The beauty of Bardia, tiger country...

There are many places in Nepal to which I feel a strong bond.  Bardia National Park  is a tiger landscape I have a strong affection for, going back many years now.  The Bardia/Banke region is fast becoming one of the most important regions on the planet for the future of the tiger.  The area is now an ideal base for me as I understand the issues surrounding the leopard and the coexistence of that animal with us humans and other species such as the tigers here along with the snow leopards up in the Himalayas in other regions north of the park.

Those who have been following this blog will have an idea how living among wild animals impacts communities and Bardia with ongoing issues with elephants and leopards is a perfect example.  The tigers here are generally well behaved, there is a fantastic prey base and vigilant anti-poaching, these are two of the factors that has seen the tiger population increase.  However, the rise in tiger numbers means fresh challenges in coexistence with people as well as other animals, this is the future.

Bardia is a beautiful place and as we come into the oven like pre monsoon months I'll bring more news of happenings here as well as further news on the challenges of human-leopard coexistence higher up in the hills.  There are sometimes not enough hours in the day and now the extra challenge of yet another leopard rehab, little Dipnani, adds to the load.  But every effort is worth it, the world has to do its best to keep protecting places like this because without them we are nothing...