Even though leopards are very versatile animals that can live in a number of different habitats, they are nevertheless vulnerable to various serious threats. In turn, numerous leopard conservation programs have been established all over Africa and Asia in order to ensure that this species does not become extinct. If this cause is near and dear to your heart, you can also do your part to contribute. However, before becoming a leopard conservation volunteer, we would first like to tell you more about this line of voluntary work. In what follows, you can thus learn more about what it means to be a leopard conservation volunteer abroad. Moreover, you will come to find out why your help as a volunteer is desperately needed given the many threats that wild leopards face.
Where can you volunteer in leopard conservation?
Volunteering in leopard conservation means that you will likely be planning a trip to Africa, Asia, or India sometime soon. Given that leopards live in grasslands, semi-deserts, savannas, and even in rainforests, your work as a future leopard conservation volunteer can take you to very different parts of the world. However, no matter where you end up volunteering, these are likely some of the leopard conservation tasks that you will be asked to help out with:
- Data entry/ office work
- Rescue and rehabilitation
- Tracking/ monitoring the local big cat population
Why are leopards endangered?
None of these leopard conservation efforts would be needed if leopards were not endangered. However, the sad truth of the matter is that leopard populations all over Africa and Asia are in decline. Compared to the former historic leopard range in both Africa and Asia, the world has had to witness about 50% of these big cats vanishing. If this trend continues, there thus will not be any wild leopards left very soon. Given the beautiful fur coat that leopards possess, this is one of the key reasons why this mammal is subject to unregulated, illegal poaching and hunting. Many hunters would give an arm and a leg to possess a beautiful leopard fur, which can be made into a rug, for example. This is especially true of these hunters got the chance to kill the leopard themselves.
In addition, some leopard body parts play a role in traditional Asian medicine. Hence, this is another reason why leopards are being hunted. In turn, leopard conservation must also mean education in order to stop people from hunting leopards. Apart from the worldwide fur trade, human encroachment on the natural habitat of leopards is further putting the populations worldwide at risk. The Amur leopard is at particular risk. Experts estimate that a mere 40 Amur leopards are still alive today, which is why this species is believed to either suffer from inbreeding or die out in the very near future. Given that these big cats further face the following threats, your help as a volunteer is urgently required. The sooner you can lend a helping hand to a big cat conservation program of your choice, the better! Some more reasons leopards are on the edge of extinction today are the following:
- Forest fires
- Lack of prey
- Habitat fragmentation