With three deaths by snaring and poisoning within a week in the Nuwara
Eliya district ‘Panthera Pardus Kotiya’ or the Sri Lanka Leopard as
commonly known is in danger and is classified as an endangered species
by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Text and pictures by PRIYAN DE SILVA – Matara Sports Correspondent

“Sensationalizing news reports on incidents where humans have startled
leopards has created a fear psychosis which has endangered the few
remaining Sri Lankan Leopards ” lamented Anjali Watson founder and
managing trustee of the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

“It is estimated that there are only about 750 to 1000 breeding adult
leopards in the island and there have been as much as nine fatalities
reported this year of which eight were in the Central hills and what
is startling is that there have been three deaths reported within a
week. Unlike in India there are no recent incidents where leopards
have stalked and attacked humans in Sri Lanka. The incidents that
have taken place and have been reported are where people have startled
leopards who react naturally by springing on the intruder and running
off. This is not attack but self defense !”
Play time !
“The change of landscape due to forest clearing, more release tea
areas which has resulted in the increase of grassland and the change
in the pattern of estate housing may be reasons for the increased
incidents of people startling leopards. The increase in the canine
population in these areas and grazing livestock in leopard territory
is also a factor which attracts leopards.”

“We carried out awareness programs for estate workers in the past but
now we find that they are less effective because there is a fear
factor which wasn’t there in the past. The media has certainly played
it’s part in this regard as people and leopards have co existed for
centuries with respect rather than fear”

“People should be aware that snaring and poisoning of animals is
illegal. More often than not leopards are by catches of snares set for
wild boar but it seems that snaring wild boar is being done at a
commercial scale now and has to be dealt with. We together with the
Department of Wildlife Conservation hope to carry out a nation wide
awarness campaign in this regard in the near future”

Dr Tharaka Prasad who performed the postmortem on the mother and cub
felled at Alpion Estate Agaraparhana said that it was suspected the
animals were poisoned and the exact substance used was to be

Snaring or poisoning wild animals is an offence in Sri Lanka.

This article was published in the Daily News – http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/05/20/features/82198