It’s often difficult to retain one’s faith in humanity, especially when witnessing the cruelty that members of our species are capable of.
Our latest example of sick behavior humans are capable comes from Malaysia, where a group of poachers were photographed laughing while posing with and holding up the bloodied and lifeless body of a rare clouded leopard.
The clouded leopard—or Neofelis nebulosa—is an extremely rare creature. With an estimated global population of only 10,000, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the leopard as “vulnerable” on its Red List of species threatened with extinction.
The rarity of the mesmerizing leopard didn’t seem to bother the unidentified poachers, who appear proud of having slaughtered the leopard in its natural habitat. Members of the Malaysian Civil Defense Force can be seen in the background wearing their blue uniforms.
The photos were uploaded to Facebook by a man known as “Max Mantra” who claimed they had been taken in Tampin, in the western state of Negeri Sembilan.
Hopefully they will be found and taught a lesson. Maybe don’t know better but it’s time they learn not to hurt and destroy these rare amazing gorgeous animals. How sad this is. How could they do this and smile and think it is ok. What a loss.
— caroline (@carolin67681505) May 10, 2019
However, the photos were deleted not long after they were posted, along with Max’s social media account.
But by the time Max realized the uproar the photos were soon to raise, another web user named Siva Nadarajan took screenshots and posted them to a hiking group on Facebook, according to Mothership.
Nadarajan explained how he tried to notify the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia regarding the incident, but was told by the agency that “everyone has gone home,” essentially telling him he would not be able to make a complaint.
It remains unclear whether Nadarajan followed up to make the complaint. His own post to the hiking group has since been removed.
Countless web users have been enraged by the gleeful faces of the leopard’s killers, especially due to the vulnerability of the beautiful leopard. The sense of palpable outrage across the internet is likely due to the callous smiles and casual execution of the leopard in its own home environment.
This particular Asian cat went extinct decades ago in countries such as Singapore and Taiwan, and its worldwide population continues to dwindle day by day.
The photos come just as two poachers from Vietnam were given jail sentences by Malaysian courts for the illegal possession of threatened and protected animal parts, according to the Malaysian Star.
The two men were found to have illegally used snares to capture animals that were under total state protection, and were caught in possession of 141 individual parts of two Malayan tigers, three sun bears ,12 wild boar, and two clouded leopards.
In March, another Vietnamese national was sentenced to 19 years in jail after being found guilty of 10 charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act. He, too, was found to be in illegal possession of 273 wildlife parts including tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, sun bear and sambar deer.
A poacher from Vietnam was sentenced to six years in jail after being successfully prosecuted for his possession of a complete tiger skin, a partial tiger skin, a leopard’s claw, a sun bear’s claw, and large portions of tiger meat and wild boar meat.