International Leopard Day 2023: Website dedicated to rosette cats launched

The website aims to enable higher awareness, promotion and celebration of leopards worldwide
Photo: Cape Leopard Trust
Photo: Cape Leopard Trust

This story has been updated

A new portal dedicated to leopards (Panthera pardus) was launched by the Global Leopard Conference (GLC) on International Leopard Day (May 3, 2023) to promote and celebrate leopards worldwide.

The launch of the website follows an international leopard conference held from March 13-19 by the South Africa-based Cape Leopard Trust, global wild cat organisation Panthera, Wildcats Conservation Alliance, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, WildCRU, RCU SA and Arabian Leopard Fund.

A statement by the GLC noted that “despite being a well-known and charismatic species, the conference presentations and discussion groups overwhelmingly indicated that leopards are still greatly in need of awareness raising, support and investment — especially considering their ‘Vulnerable’ status as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature”.

It was agreed that International Leopard Day deserved a dedicated portal to host information about the day and leopards, as well as some basic resources, it added.

“As a lasting legacy of the Global Leopard Conference, International Leopard Day on May 3 was officialised and endorsed to give it a permanent and meaningful place on the global wildlife calendar, enabling higher awareness, promotion and celebration of leopards worldwide,” the release said.

There have been several instances of human-leopard conflict in recent years across India.

“In comparison to other large carnivores, leopards are quite adaptable with respect to their habitat needs and food requirements, being found in agro-pastoral landscapes, plantations and near human habitation (both rural and urban),” the Status of Leopards, Co-predators and Megaherbivores-2018 released on International Tiger Day 2021, had stated.

This trait of easy adaptability has in recent times caused much trouble for both humans and leopards, if one goes by media reports. From Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley to the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam, Gir National Park in Gujarat and Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in southern Tamil Nadu, there is no area in the country that has not seen incidents of human-leopard conflict.

Noted wildlife ecologist Sanjay Gubbi in his 2021 book Leopard Diaries: The Rosette in India had pointed to preservation of natural landscapes as a way to save the feline creatures.

Vidya Athreya, an authority on leopards in India, who had suggested practical methods to reduce human-leopard conflict, welcomed the formation of the portal.

“Leopards are a species that have never been as well acknowledged and studied as, say, tigers. It is good that this website has been created. It means there will be more knowledge out there in the public domain. I am sure that will help the conservation of leopards,” she told Down To Earth.

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