By P. Naveen
While the leopard is one of the most widely recognized cats after tigers, its days may be numbered in Madhya Pradesh. Thanks to poaching, retaliatory killing, conflicts with farmers followed by weak investigations, the spotted feline may soon qualify for 'vulnerable'status.
Within 24 hours of a leopard's death in Panna district, another one got killed in Seoni district on Tuesday morning. Even as a failed poaching attempt is being alleged in the Seoni case, officers concerned claim that the big cat was killed in a territorial war with tiger.
However, with these two casualties, MP has lost 15 leopards in the last seven months, including six that were trapped, axed and electrocuted to death for hides and nails. While one leopard was killed in retaliation by villagers, others lost their lives to territorial wars and road accidents.
In other cases, leopards were poached using crude bombs and deadly clutch wire traps, at Chhatarpur and Sagar districts. Poachers had chopped off the claws for their nails in two different cases reported from Alirajpur and Dhar. A hide was seized from south Balaghat area on February 13.
The frequent deaths have prompted wildlife activists to call for conservation programs for leopards in line with those conducted for tigers.
Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey has written a letter to the Union minister for forest and environment (Moef), Jayanti Natarajan, to constitute a special cell or wing at national level for their protection. An RTI filed by him has revealed that 138 leopards have died in MP since 2008.
Maximum casualties were reported in 2011 (43) of which 17 were killed by poachers in Seoni, Balaghat, Burhanpur, Barwani, Mandla, Sehore, Panna, Hoshangabad and Badwah forest areas. More....