Many of Sri Lanka’s iconic leopards are hiding in fear, as the government’s decision to defend humans from leopard poachers threatens to wipe them out, according to the latest report from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) of India.
The leopards in Sri Lanka, and in Indian states like Gujarat, have been targeted for much of their lives by a black-market trade that feeds on the widespread human vulnerability to leopard and tiger poachers, estimated by the Indian government to be worth close to $1.6 billion.
Since 2009, human-leopard conflict has resulted in 92 leopard deaths according to a recent release from WCS. In 2018, 60 deaths were reported in Sri Lanka.
With Leopards plentiful and living in close proximity to humans in numerous western states in India and Sri Lanka, law enforcement and environmental conservationists have joined to craft different strategies to protect leopards by introducing greater use of wildlife deterrents.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), experts argue that if not addressed the threat to leopards, will change the balance in the country’s natural environment.
A WCS representative in Sri Lanka described that the situation has reached critical mass in recent years with the U.S. and European tourist year-round market providing the demand for illegal animal products.
If not properly addressed, the WCS noted, Leopards, in Sri Lanka and in the rest of the country, will likely be targeted and endangered further.