ABBOTTABAD–The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department, along with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), recovered the carcass of a leopard from the Tarnawa suburb of Abbottabad.
After conducting a post-mortem on the animal, it appeared that the leopard had been poisoned. However, statements from the WWF suggest that the leopard had died a natural death.
The Wildlife Department found the leopard dumped along the side of the road. Local residents said it had likely been transported there by a vehicle.
According to the locals, the leopard, along with two others, had eaten poisoned meat. The bodies of the two other leopards have not yet been recovered.
The Divisional Wildlife Officer alerted the police of the incident and appealed to them for the immediate arrest of the ‘mafia’ believed to be responsible for the killing of these endangered animals.
Hunting or possessing a leopard is defined as a crime in the Third Schedule of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife and Biodiversity Act, 2015. The revisions to the law have given the Wildlife Department more power to fight against and apprehend those who break the law. Although the new law also prescribes greater penalties for those who break the law, this may not always be enough.
Leopards are now regarded as a ‘near threatened’ endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
They are commonly hunted for their beautiful skins, or because they are believed to be hostile towards humans and their livestock (a source of livelihood). Leopards are known for targeting livestock because hunting domestic animals is easier than hunting wild animals, and the availability of wild animals has sharply decreased due to increasing urbanisation of under-developed areas.
The exact number of the common leopard in the wild, starting from where Punch River enters at the Pakistan-India border all the way down to the Margalla Hills, has never been known.
A leopard spotted in a particular area can also be spotted elsewhere the same day, as they are capable of covering distances of many miles in a single day. This makes it difficult to count their exact number.