By Bagish K Jha
With the decreasing number of tigers, poaching of leopard and trade of its skin and bones has increased significantly in recent years. If immediate efforts are not taken, soon leopard will also meet the fate of tiger, said head of TRAFFIC India, a wildlife trade monitoring network, Dr Shekhar Kumar Niraj here on Tuesday. Niraj, who was in Indore to attend the two-day workshop on wildlife conservation jointly organized by Police Radio Training School (PRTS) and WWF ( World Wildlife Fund) India, said gangs are now eyeing poaching of leopard, which belongs to the same ecosystem as that of tiger.
In the last few years, more than thousand leopard skins have been seized along with tiger skins. If more than 1,000 leopards were killed in the country out of the 6,000 total population of the animal, one can only imagine how long the animal species is going to survive.
Demand for tiger has been on the rise in countries like China, Korean, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan where the animal products are mainly used for medicinal purpose. But there has been a decline in the population of tigers everywhere and hence poachers are considering leopard skins and bones as substitutes for that of tigers.
"Age-old medicinal system of China also mentions benefits of leopard products somewhere. Hence with a decline in population of tiger, the demand for leopard has picked up significantly in the recent past," said Niraj.
Over importance of conservation of leopard, Niraj said poaching of leopard and tiger is a matter of big concern in a state like Madhya Pradesh, which has maximum number of tiger and leopards.
"Risks are high in MP and it requires extra efforts to save these majestic animals," said Niraj adding that the state is not taking efforts matching to the threat.