As sightings in populated areas increase, authorities are trapping leopards and keeping them captive, often in small cages without adequate food. The solution is to educate the public on coexisting with the big cats, reports Environment 360

When an escaped leopard tackled a man at a poolside on a school campus in the southern Indian city of Bangalore early this year, the video went viral. The victim was one of the wildlife managers trying to recapture the animal. His colleagues finally managed to tranquilize it late that night and return it to a nearby zoo that was serving as a rescue center for a population of 16 wild-caught leopards. A week later, the leopard squeezed between the bars of another cage and escaped again, this time for good.

All the news and social media attention focused on the attack – and none on the underlying dynamic. But that dynamic affects much of India. Even as leopards have vanished in recent decades from vast swaths of Africa and Asia, the leopard population appears to be increasing in this nation of 1.2 billion people. The leopards are adept at living unnoticed even amid astonishingly high human population densities. But conflicts inevitably occur. Enraged farmers sometimes kill the leopards. Trapping is a standard response, but religious and animal rights objections have made euthanasia for unwanted animals unthinkable.

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Source: Guardian Environment