Incidence of wildlife poaching is on the rise in the southern States, said Ravi P. Singh, Secretary-General of World Wide Fund for Nature – India (WWF-I).

Mr. Singh who was here recently told The Hindu that poaching of leopards in the southern States has increased. Since 2000, the Traffic, a wing of the WWF-I, had gathered data on seizure of leopard skins, which showed an alarming increase.

In his observation, local people were not involved in poaching.

It was always a group which came from outside and indulged in poaching. Though Forest Department officials in the southern States were very sensitive to such offences, poaching took place in sanctuaries and national parks, he said.

Unlike in other parts of the country where tiger poaching tops the list, it was leopards in the south, Mr. Singh said.

At least four leopards were poached in the country every week in the last 10 years.

The total estimated number of leopards poached for illegal trade stood at 2,294.

An analysis of seizure of tiger skins revealed that body parts of 474 tigers were seized in the country between 2000 and 2010, indicating that, on an average, more than three tigers were killed every month. On an average, 43 tigers were reported killed in a year .

In an attempt to reduce poaching, the WWF has launched anti-poaching modules and a special team was formed.

The team imparts training to Forest officials besides training personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Border Security Force and Central Bureau of Investigation. Customs officials and State police officers were also imparted training in anti-poaching measures, Mr. Singh said.

The organisation plans to expand its environment education, which is being conducted in schools near sanctuaries and national parks.