Large banners featuring tigers and leopards have come up in and around India’s national capital region of New Delhi. The banners, featuring Asia’s big cats — tigers, leopards, snow leopards and clouded leopards — threatened by illegal poaching, are part of an eye-catching campaign by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The black and white pictures have a direct-hitting subtext “Wanted Alive” emphasising the need to keep these felines healthy and happy in their natural habitat. Reproduced here, with permission from WWF, are the pictures that tell their own story.
The threat on Asia’s big cat was highlighted at the recently concluded Global Tiger Recovery Programme Stocktaking meeting in New Delhi from 15-17 May, 2012. The meeting was attended by senior government officials from all 13 tiger range countries.
The meet also discussed how, besides existing markets, emerging ones such as Myanmar, were compounding the threat on these animals killed for their body parts. The body parts are smuggled through porous borders to clandestine international markets.
According to TRAFFIC, the WWF-IUCN wildlife trade monitoring network , the snow leopard from the Himalayan mountains and the little known clouded leopard from the dense jungles of north-eastern India are hunted for their beautiful coat. The beautiful clouded leopard’s bones are smuggled for medicines, its meat for exotic dishes and the live animal itself for pet trade. Its canines and claws are also used for decorative purposes.
The tiger, of course, remains the largest cat species in the world threatened by illegal trade in its bones
and skin. The bones are valued in traditional East Asian medicines, and the skin is used by the wealthy to decorate houses, tents or clothes. TRAFFIC estimates that body parts of nearly 500 tigers have been recovered from illegal traders in India during 2000-2011. Many more tigers may have been killed and smuggled out, undetected.
Leopards are also being poached in large numbers in India for their skin and body parts.
The campaign comes after a similar innovative one on wildlife in September 2010 when India was gearing up to host the Commonwealth games. In that campaign, TRAFFIC warned tourists of the dire consequences of buying illegal wildlife souvenirs from India.
Here’s wishing this new campaign makes people sit up and take note.