ISLAMABAD: The growing leopard population in the Margalla Hills terrain is reportedly vulnerable to extinction not because of poachers or natural causes but by deliberate poisoning.

The carnivorous animal, for its rising food requirements is forced to prey on domesticated animals that belong to people living in nearby localities.

This is the reason the animal is vulnerable as poison has been used by locals in the past to protect their livestock.

There have been reports of locals throwing meat laced with poison in the forest to get rid of the leopards.

“It is an established fact that in the past, poison as a deceptive weapon has been used against these predators and threat is imminent until relevant authorities do not come up with a plan to offer compensation to those whose animals are hunted by leopards,” said Quddus Abbasi, a resident of Shahdara village.

Leopards have killed over a dozen domesticated animals of different residents of nearby localities situated close to the terrain.

The residents, sharing their ordeals have asked authorities to establish a compensation fund, adding that a number of their goats and half a dozen cows and calves in the recent past have been hunted by wild cats causing them financial loss.

My cow was killed in a radius of just 200 metres from the house most probably by a leopard as villagers have seen it moving with a pair of cubs nearby, said Zakir Hussain.

The mosque cleric of the same locality, Abdul Rashid, said his only buffalo was hunted by leopards which was the source of bread and butter for his family. “I cannot afford to buy another as an average one costs Rs200,000,” he added.

According to information received through RTI, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) found a body of a leopard in early 2018.

However, the source of suspected death of the animal could not be determined and samples are still at the laboratory.

After that, we increased our surveillance in the area and started awareness campaign regarding the importance of wildlife for the ecosystem, said IWMB Manager Operations Sakhawat Ali.

He said that the board, during the awareness campaign, engaged with the local community asking for their help in ensuring that the endangered animal remains safe.

When asked about the board’s view regarding compensation of the locals’ loses, he said there was no mechanism to compensate it.

He added there was no provision in law to fine those who kill the animal.

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2021

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