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Assessing Human-Common Leopard Negative Interaction: Mitigating Poaching and Illegal Trading of its Products in Eastern Himalaya.
  • Kinley Tenzin
Kinley Tenzin
Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd.

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Abstract

The population of the Common Leopard (Panthera pardus) are increasingly becoming isolated due to human activities, which has increased human-leopard interaction. Bhutan is experiencing an increase in human-wildlife conflict, partly as the farmland and crops are being abandoned, which has allowed wildlife to encroach upon human settlements. It is extremely difficult to balance farmers’ socioeconomic requirements with ecological conservation. Large animals like tigers and snow leopards have been the subject of much investigation but the leopards have received less attention. To address this gap, a study was conducted to document incidents of livestock depredation by leopards, identify the threats they face, and raise awareness about leopard conservation. Before commencing the field survey, researchers engaged with villagers to gather general information about leopards and their habitats. Data collection involved active participation from the local community, with a total of 340 respondents, mostly comprising elderly villagers and pastoral nomads. Over the past five years, 242 livestock animals fell victim to predators, with the highest number of attacks occurring in 2018. The Common Leopard was responsible for the majority of livestock losses in the study area. Incursions by leopards into human settlements have been on the rise, exacerbating conflicts, especially among rural communities residing near the forest. Some villagers resorted to killing leopards as a form of retaliation against livestock losses and to trade their body parts for various purposes. To address these challenges, forest officials and managers received guidance on monitoring and leopard conservation. The involvement of local communities through extensive awareness campaigns played a crucial role in supporting leopard conservation efforts.