A commercialized bushmeat trade has caused a 59% decline in leopard prey populations across 78 protected areas between 1970 and 2005.
Leopard population density across the species’ range is known to track the biomass of principle leopard prey species, medium-size and large wild herbivores.
Prey species are increasingly under threat from an unsustainable bushmeat trade, leading to collapses in prey populations across large parts of savanna Africa. A commercialized bushmeat trade has caused an estimated 59% average decline in leopard prey populations across 78 protected areas in West, East, and southern Africa between 1970 and 2005. Though ungulate populations have increased by 24% in southern Africa, potential prey numbers have declined by 52% in East Africa and 85% in West Africa. Bushmeat poaching in Mozambique and Zambia has severely reduced leopard prey inside and outside of protected areas. Many wildlife areas are suffering from substantial ungulate decline, including Zambian Game Management Areas and National Parks, maintain large mammal populations at 93.7% and 74.1% below estimated carrying capacity, respectively.
With such reductions to leopard prey, IUCN infers a more than 50% loss of leopard populations across East and West Africa.
Through extensive poaching pressure also in Asia, many prey species, such as sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) in Malaysia, are threatened with regional extirpation throughout tropical forest systems.
• Image | © Tambako The Jaguar, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (Becker, et al., 2013; Corbett, 2007; Craigie, et al., 2010; Fusari & Carpaneto, 2006; Hatton, Cuoto, & Oglethorpe, 2001; Hayward, O’Brien, & Kerley, 2007; Kawanishi, Rayan, Gumal, & Shepherd, 2014; Lindsey, et al., 2013, 2014; Marker & Dickman, 2005)