PESHAWAR: Listed as vulnerable species in the world, a snow leopard died in Peshawar Zoo on Thursday, officials said.
However, the reason for the 10-year-old big cat’s death is not known.
The snow leopard was brought to the newly-established zoo from Ayubia National Park in Abbottabad district.
It was found dead in its enclosure amid plans of its shifting back to the national park cage.
WWF says warm weather, poor environment may be responsible for death
Zoo Manager Mohammad Ali Khan said the management had planned to take the snow leopard back to its cage in the national park before April 20 but the animal died on Thursday.
“The animal died a natural death,” he said without elaborating on the main cause of death.
The manager said the maximum age limit of the snow leopard was 14 years but it died at the age of 10.
Expressing concern about the death, a representative of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said the snow leopard might have died due to the warming weather and poor habitat.
“The question is whether the zoo’s environment and weather was suitable for the survival of snow leopard, he said, adding that the species of the high-altitude areas could not survive in plain and hot areas like Peshawar.
This was the third wild animal died in the zoo since its inauguration in Feb last.
On March 2, a four-year old fallow-deer of American-African origin died.
Few days later, a wolf killed a monkey. Both animals shared an enclosure.
The officials said the snow leopard was property of the wildlife department and that it had been in captivity at a cage in Lala Zaar area of the national park since 2009.
The conservators had captured it when it was only two-years-old.
A source said officials of the Gilgit-Baltistan government were hoping to pair the male snow leopard from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the lone female leopard it had kept.
“The news of the untimely death of the big wild cat will be a huge disappointment to the GB government,” he said.
Director of the Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan Dr Ali Nawaz termed the death of snow leopard in Peshawar Zoo very unfortunate and said it might have died of mismanagement.
Also the Pakistan Programme Director for the Snow Leopard Trust, he said Peshawar’s environment was not fit for snow leopards.
“Snow leopard can hardly survive in temperature above 15 degree Celsius,” he said.
Dr Ali Nawaz said it seemed that the snow leopard was not provided required environment and facilities, which resulted in its death.
He said international guidelines for zoo management should be applied properly.
The Meteorological Department, Peshawar office, said the maximum and minimum temperatures recorded in the city on Thursday were 26 degree Celsius and 11 degree Celsius.
The animals’ enclosures in the zoo are covered with iron sheets.
The snow leopard found in Chitral area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan was put in the category of vulnerable specie last year due to the vanishing natural habitat, trapping, pouching and killing by herders in the region.
Dr Nawaz said the estimated population of snow leopards was around 200 in Pakistan.
He said snow leopard had died in Lahore Zoo due to warm weather two years ago.
He said the zoo management had installed air conditioning system for the animal in the cage but even then, it didn’t survive.
Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2018