Wildcat not facing extinction in Chitral

CHITRAL, Dec 6: Lynx, a wildcat, is not facing extinction in the district, locals claimed.

During the data compilation campaign on lynx in the pastures of lower parts of Chitral, a wildlife conservation agency ‘neglected’ presence of the wildcat in the region, the locals claimed.

Some people had time and again reported lynx’s presence in the region, which had even attacked pet animals.

The locals said that in the recent past, lynx had considerable population in the forests covering the villages of Broze, Drosh, Sheshi Koh, Damil, Arsoon and Arandu.

The density of its population suffered dilution with the deforestation and ruthless hunting of wildlife but it was yet not facing extinction as people had spotted them at high altitudes.

They say that in winter, when the forests receive snow, the wildcat descends to the nearby pastures of the villages to seek shelter and food. Sometimes wild animal has even attacked human settlements.

Two years ago, a lynx entered Drosh village and created panic among the residents by killing two cows.

Sadbar Khan, a local shepherd of Sheshi Koh valley, claims that the high pastures of the southern part of Chitral has sizeable population of lynx, locally called Dowsoan.

While herding goats in the pastures in summer, “I came across the wildcat many times which pose threat to our cattle heads”.

Recalling his observations, another person of the valley says that the ‘cunning’ wild animal attacks a solitary goat and sucks its blood. The animal is bold enough to carry the onslaught even in the presence of a group of persons.

The wildcat is taken as a symbol of horror in Chitral and there is hardly any folktale without carrying mention of the animal as a source of ‘danger’.

However, experts say that the population of the wildcat is feared to be heading towards extinction with the passage of time as it cannot withstand the harsh weather in the higher altitudes because the ever extending human settlement, deforestation and overgrazing of pastures has forced it to abandon its abode in the lower altitudes.

They fear that absence of lynx is clearly an indication of the imbalance of ecosystem and demand measures for preservation of an important component of the regional biodiversity.

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