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The black leopard is the second largest cat in Thailand, and its numbers are decreasing throughout much of the country. Leopards are private creatures, usually nocturnal, and rarely spotted by humans. That’s why one photographer for the Bangkok Post expressed surprise when he found a picture of a black leopard in broad daylight on one of his cameras. Shortly thereafter, the same photographer and a friend encountered yet another black leopard during a photo shoot – a rare occasion.
The meetings are an indication of a larger problem; as leopard habitats diminish, these creatures are venturing into human habitats, where they are in greater danger for their lives. In order to preserve the black leopard population of Thailand, leaders must first preserve their forest habitats. Leopards have all but disappeared in Central, East, and Northeast Thailand, where there are no preserves like the ones found in the western reaches of the country.
The disappearance is alarming for a species that is approximately 1.5 million years old. Experts agree that existing parks must remain up-to-date, well-funded, and clear of poachers and encroachment by farms and industry. They must flourish with prey animals for the big cats, and they must remain protected by federal law for generations to come. Otherwise, black leopards will surely perish from the country. Ask Thailand’s leaders to preserve black leopard habitats well into the future.