Snow leopard reemerges in Chitral forests [DAWN]

CHITRAL, Jan 26: Snow leopard was spotted in the forests near Bakamak and Shali villages in Chitral district on Wednesday and Thursday after long disappearance.

An official of the local wildlife department told Dawn on Thursday that the big cat appeared near Bakamak and Shali areas but heavy snowfall forced it into moving to Toshi game reserve at lower altitude.

He said snow leopard hadn’t been seen in the area over the last two years amidst fears about its extinction.

People thronged the Garam Chashma Road to catch a glimpse of the leopard.

The wildlife department official said the big cat descended to the areas of low altitudes in search of food after heavy snow in forests and high mountains and that small animals, including markhor and ibex, were its cherished food.

People fear attacks on them and their livestock by the big cat, especially at nighttime.

Ejaz Ahmad, a biodiversity specialist, said snow leopard lived in areas alongside Hindu Kush range of mountains.

He said leopard was declared an endangered specie in the recent past but its population density later surged satisfactorily.

Mr Ejaz said massive grazing in alpine rangeland, human conflicts, climatic change and decline in snowfall had led to reduction in the number of leopards. He said WWF had launched a snow leopard welfare project in some Chitral villages.

Meanwhile, Dinar Shah, in his eighties and from Seen village, said previously, people used to guard their families and livestock at nighttime but installation of bulbs around the village had curtailed leopard attacks.

He said leopard’s attacks on people were very rare as it targeted livestock, especially goats, only. He said the former Chitral rulers banned leopard killing but lifted the ban in view of growing cases of its attacks on livestock.

Some regretted that leopard was poached in the area for skin, which had a great demand in national and international market, without let or hindrance. They demanded registration of cases against leopard poachers.

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One Comment

  1. The snow leopard is an endangered species .Indiscriminate killing of the Cat even continues today in the North of Pakistan .Its interaction with human is very rare. The leopard’s skin and glands are worth more than 20,000 USD in the international market. Despite a ban on its hunt, locals at some villages have established links with dealers down country. For example some individuals in upper Hunza agree to sell the leopard’s skin ranging between 3000-4000 USD.They apply chemical poison to the dead animal’s carcass, resulting in the snow leopards death as it feeds on the remains. The dealers down country help in smuggling the skin outside Pakistan.
    This act should be condemned at the village level, and mafias involved in such acts should be brought to justice with the help of law enforcement department and national park officials.
    Before this rare species gets extinct in our part of the world!

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