PESHAWAR: A documentary of international standard featuring common leopard has been filmed with the objective of creating awareness among masses especially local communities of Galyat in Abbottabad about ecological importance of the big cat in maintenance of strong ecosystem.

The documentary has been prepared with joint efforts of World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF), an international non-governmental organisation striving to save endangered wild species, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wildlife department and the Walkabout Films Production Company.

“Apart from educating people about environmental importance of common leopard the objective of the documentary was also to apprise the world community about serious efforts being made in Pakistan for conservation of top predator and its habitat,” informed Wasim Ahmad, coordinator WWF.

The documentary took around two years for completion and would soon be released on international channels, he added.

The Walkabout Films Production Company is working on global wildlife projects, including Planet Earth (the award winning BBC/Discovery series) and has already prepared a documentary in Pakistan on the snow leopard conservation titled as 'Beyond the Myth Filmed'.

Mr Ahmad said the common leopard -- Panthera Pardus -- had been declared an endangered species under the Conservation and Assessment Management Plan (CAMP, 2004) conducted by IUCN in Pakistan.

The WWF, he said was working along with wildlife department of KP and other departments in protection of common leopard whose largest population in Pakistan was found at Galyat.

He said that in September 2013, the WWF team successfully captured a male common leopard in the vicinity of Ayubia National Park and fitted it with a satellite (GPS) collar to get scientific information on conservation of the wild cat facing extinction.

“This was the first ever attempt of fitting radio collar to common leopard in Pakistan for carrying out advance research for conservation of the animal,” he added.

The WWF official said as the documentary was released from international channel its copies would be distributed among all the communities living in Galyat to help them understand the habits of common leopard.

“Human-leopard conflict in response to attacks on livestock is posing serious danger to survival of wildcat in Galyat,” explained Mr Ahmad.

Even when the predator didn’t find wild prey due to reduction in habitat, it starts its dependence on livestock and in some cases on human beings, he elaborated.

The WWF official said that in the documentary an attempt was made to teach people how to behave responsibly for living along with the leopard. “Communities were informed about the reasons the leopard attacked livestock and even human beings,” he added.

Human mistakes like collection of wood by women moving in forest at late hours and then running in panic after watching the animal are the factors for leopard attacks, he maintained.

Mr Ahmad expressed the hope that the documentary would help a lot in conservation of big cats through enlightening people especially people of Galyat about ecological importance and behaviour of big cats.—APP