While saying that nearly 20 native leopards have become prey due to human activities reported since January, the Wildlife Department said they have taken all measures to put an end to these occurrences.
Department of Wildlife Conservation Director (Health), Dr. Tharaka Prasad told Daily Mirror that the Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is strictly protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of Sri Lanka.
The National Conservation Status of this species is regarded as "Endangered" (National Red List 2012). They have also been listed as threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as well.
“Accordingly, setting-up snares and killing these leopards are strictly prohibited. However, this continues to happen,” Dr. Prasad said.
“The leopards become prey to the snares which are set up to hunt other animals. There are only one or two incidents where snares are setup to hunt leopards,” Dr. Prasad added.
He stressed that the Wildlife Department with the support of police have already launched a special programme to curb the killing of native leopards.
Under this, awareness programmes among public are conducted. Still, people pay no attention to this matter and neither have they taken it seriously. However, he said they had found it difficult to identify those responsible for setting up snares
The Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is a subspecies native to Sri Lanka first described in 1956 by Sri Lankan zoologist Deraniyagala.The survival of the Sri Lankan leopard is threatened because of habitat loss and poaching. (Sheain Fernandopulle)