These days, thanks to the unique expertise we have at Project Future4Leopards to capture leopards, we are receiving phone calls that “there is a leopard here attacking on livestock, come and capture it”! That raises a concern that instead of trying to reduce and prevent conflict with leopards, capturing and translocation which should be the last resort has been prioritised as the first action to do. Technically, capturing a leopard is not the first solution; it is definitely the last, when alternative measures fail to resolve the problem.
Recently, we have been asked to visit an area in the north of the country, south of Caspian Sea (250 km from Tehran) where a leopard(s) was responsible for several cattle depredations in a small area. As usual nowadays, we have been asked for a capturing operation. But, there are significant steps before such a decision to remove a leopard from its habitat. The first question is how many leopards are responsible? If it is several, capturing only one of them does not help people to get rid of the problem. Secondly, how many cattle have been killed by leopard(s)? Is it an infrequent event or is the leopard now preying mainly or exclusively on cattle? Then, are all available preventive measures being applied but did not working well? If it is decided to capture the leopard, it is crucial to think beforehand where to translocate? And many more questions that must be considered in these situations.
Based on these considerations, the PFL crew visited two locations in recent months to provide advice on dealing with leopard(s) involved in conflict. Fortunately, we have been successful in convincing our partners at both cases to think about alternative measures and leave capturing as the last solution.