Leopards face extinction in Sri Lanka, conservationists say

Leopards are in big trouble, say conservationists in Sri Lanka, and that threatens the extinction of the animals. The leopard is classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, meaning that it is near the end of its lifecycle. While its range is roughly the size of South Asia, the leopard is found in only two-thirds of that. About 30,000 leopards live in the wild in Sri Lanka, but that population is declining rapidly. The last tiger in Sri Lanka’s Ranthambore National Park was killed in 2017 and another tiger, the last in the country, went missing last year.

For more than a century, leopards roamed freely in Sri Lanka’s forests, as much as 200 miles from the nearest humans. But a decline in natural prey sources, a bloody civil war, rising human population and organized crime are driving the cats to move further and further away. And like most animals that face persecution, the leopard is becoming popular among zoos and circuses, as well as with tourists eager to take pictures with him. With no natural place to settle in, these new zones quickly become “leopard enclaves,” where the animals are hard to monitor and even harder to help. Because of this, Sri Lanka has already lost at least 24 leopards between 2013 and 2016, conservationists say.

Officials say such facts should serve as a call to action to help save the tigers, leopards and other lions, jaguars and rhinos that roam the island’s jungles. The Sri Lankan government and its conservation agency recently launched a campaign to increase biodiversity conservation throughout the country, and they’re looking to the international community to help fund their plan.

Source: BBC News

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