In 2021, the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS), Sri Lanka’s oldest such organisation (the third in the world), with the aid of the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), persuaded the government to declare August 1 of every year as Sri Lankan Leopard Day. It was on August 1 that renowned leopard researcher, Dr. Sriyanie Miththapala, published her thesis confirming that the Sri Lankan leopard, Panthera pardus kotiya, was an endemic sub-species unique to this island. Sri Lanka could now have pride in being the host of this iconic treasure.
Sadly, the reality has been anything but. Between 2010 and 2020, 102 wild leopards were killed by humans, often in the most horrible of ways; poisoned or trapped in snares. Both ways of killing are often tortuous with either the poison taking a long, agonizing time to kill or a snare getting progressively tighter and tighter around the neck, belly or leg of a leopard as the animal lunges to free itself – that is until either its organs burst or gangrene and septicemia spreads through the body resulting in an unspeakably excruciating death.