NEW DELHI: India has made progress in conserving tigers but leopards are killed in high numbers in the country for illegal trade, says a global study on four species of Asian big cats including lions in Gujarat's Gir forests and snow leopards in the Himalayas.
The study, which was commissioned by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), also warned against poaching of the small lion population in Gir forests for medicinal puroposes.
"India, highlighted several times in this review for best practices and exemplary implementation of the Resolution, has made progress in conserving tigers and reducing poaching, with an increasing tiger population and declining levels of reported poaching and seizures."
"However, for leopards in India there is a high ongoing seizure rate averaging 3.5 leopard seizure cases per month since 2000, indicating a persistent challenge," says the study titled "Review of implementation of Resolution Conf.12.5 (Rev CoP16) on conservation of and trade in Tiger and other Appendix I Asian big cat species".
Quoting a database prepared by the TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, the study says that during 2001-2010, 420 seizure incidents took place involving a minimum of 1,127 leopards.
It is likely that the leopards killed in human-predator conflict enter illegal trade, the report says.
"Most seizures (88% of incidents) analyzed in the TRAFFIC report involved only leopard skins, with very few seizures involving bones or other body parts (although there was one notorious case involving thousands of leopard claws).