2011: The Year in Animal Conservation

Thousands of leopards inhabit the wilds of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, habitat destruction and illegal poaching are pushing many of them into extinction. The Associated Press reports that thousands of animals from other parts of Asia have made their way to Sri Lanka, including the critically endangered Sumatran tiger, one of five or six that remain in the world. About 26 percent of Sri Lanka’s wild leopards are now illegally traded for the meat and pelts of tigers and other large mammals, which are then sold in India or Singapore. The trade is often facilitated by sympathizers of Sri Lanka’s hardline Buddhist and Tamil communities, where traders can claim to have been transporting the animals from their own countries. “They sell our skins, our pelts, for 3,000 to 10,000 rupees [$26 to $97], so it’s very easy to close the doors and move on,” says Sarath Dassanayake, Sri Lanka’s secretary of environment. In the smaller towns and villages surrounding Sri Lanka’s capital city, activists have set up small parks that act as havens for the great cats. The numbers need to be kept steady to help reduce the number of leopards dying in Sri Lanka.

“Let’s save these tigers and leopards from extinction and give them a chance for survival.”–Amina Khatun A name you will never forget: Ten fingers and eight toes A childhood playmate, from a place deep in the middle of the “Pandits’ forest” on the banks of the Galle pass

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