Pressure on Asia’s rare snow leopards, long persecuted for their pelts, are increasing due to demand in South East Asian countries, particularly China, for their bones and meat.
My project analyze that despite under conference12.5 [in 2002], all the countries having snow leopard are mandated to report any kind of illegal snow leopard trade incident in their country to CITES so that a central database can be maintained.
But this has not done in India and Scattered data is complicating efforts to protect snow leopards against illegal trade,
It has create a noise that we are spending so much on Snow leopards conservation efforts and UN supported projects like Secure Himalaya is running in the state, despite that our Forest department even Wild Life Crime Control Bureau has failed to compile the data of crime against snow leopards and the conviction rate is so less that poachers got bailed easily.
I have collected data from various sources i.e. Right to Information Act, wildlife agencies working for the conservation of snow leopards, forest department of Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, Information taken from District police and information appeared in regional media outlets.
I simply collected data on google sheets and my colleague made a map on datawrapper.
What was the hardest part of this project?
Collecting data was the hardest part. The Wildlife Crime Control bureau of India has not given information through RTI even.
The Forest Department replied with only one poaching case that was not correct. So, I had to contact various forest divisions, district police, and nobody was answering honestly.
I have traveled to snow leopard habitat areas also to talk to villagers, at approx 3000 meter above sea level, but villagers are also very conscious of talking on such issues.
So, from field job to gathering data is the toughest part. I was surprised that organizations working on conservation of snow leopards also didnot want to reveal anything.
What can others learn from this project?
Journalists can start trekking the crime incidents against wildlife and ask government agencies for more data of why not the data compilation is done by government agencies.