Apr 25, 2017 | Updated: 06:17 AM EDT

Leopard Population Is Declining Alarmingly In South Africa, New Study Reveals

Apr 21, 2017 01:29 AM EDT

A leopard walks with a fowl kill in her mouth at the Mashatu game reserve on July 25, 2010 in Mapungubwe, Botswana.
(Photo : Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Scientists warn about the decreasing rate of the leopard population in South Africa. The grim situation may lead to the elimination of the big cats within a few years.

The increasing trend of unlawful killing of the leopards in a specific area in South Africa creates an alarming situation. The number of the big cats in Soutpansberg Mountains has lowered so rapidly that two-third of them is now non-existent. Popular journal Royal Society Open Science reported this fact.

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Samual Williams, a conservation biologist at the Durham University in England and the lead author of the study utters significant words about this situation. He clearly points out that the current condition should be changed immediately unless there will be no leopard in the area by 2020. A few years ago in 2008, the Soutpansberg Mountain region was one of the best areas in Africa with a huge number of big cats. The current number of the animal in South Africa is 4,500.

A vast area of Africa and Asia once became the fittest regions for the leopard to roam about. The big cats were able to travel unchallenged throughout the forest in Sri Lanka and Java. But, the species gradually lost their foothold and currently, they occupy a very little portion of the said territory. It seems that within a few years they will face the extinction.

Last year the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List has included leopard as the endangered species. Leopards were strongly present in the 2,600-square mile area in Soutpansberg Mountains with 11 adult big cats for each 39 square miles in 2008. Later Samual Williams placed four dozen cameras in the said region and left them to monitor the animals from 2012 to 2016.

The study team also attached GPS collars to eight adult leopards to note their various movements. Shockingly, only two big cats with GPS collars survived during the said monitoring period, according to the Phys.org. This report indicates the necessity of some urgent steps to stabilize the number of the animals.

The study reveals a very crucial fact. The number of the leopards declined almost 66 percent just within a period of 7.5 years. Some initiatives were already taken and a "community engagement officer" is recruited. The officer plays a key role to spread the non-lethal techniques among the local people to avert the attack from the big cats.

The local people suffer a lot when the species attack their cattle and destroy important things. But, this is not the key cause of the fight between the big cats and human beings. Continuous human encroachment mainly in Africa is the key reason behind the fight and the decreasing rate of the leopard population.

Every living being on this earth has the right to live freely, but the rapid elimination of the leopard is an alarming fact. Acute constructive measures are necessary to stop the elimination. At the same time, proper initiatives are the need of the hour to increase the number of this big cat.

 

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