Body sent to Karachi for genetic study
A male common leopard, which is a critically endangered species in Pakistan, was killed by the residents of Thar’s Siringhwari district in a human-wildlife conflict on Monday evening, according to the Sindh Wildlife Department.
The animal was killed by five men after it attacked their herd of goats, Thar wildlife officer Mir Ejaz said. “They gathered around the leopard and then beat it with sticks and stones.”
The men suffered multiple injuries as well. Ejaz said that the animal was killed in self-defense.
The body of the leopard has been sent to a laboratory in Karachi for a scientific and genetic study. “Its body and tissue tests will be conducted to find whether the leopard was a local species or had migrated from somewhere else,” the wildlife officer said.
According to Chief Wildlife Conservator Javed Mahar, for the past 10 to 15 days, the wildlife department had been searching for signs of leopards in Sindh. “We had received news of a sighting from Karonjhar in Nagarparkar but when our research team went there, we didn’t find any evidence of the animal’s presence.”
Two days back, footprints of the same leopard were reported in Sorangwali, a village 40km from Siringhwari. But before another team was dispatched, this incident took place, the conservator said.
Mahar revealed that in the history of the region, no leopard has been sighted. “There’s a possibility that the animal fled from a private zoo or farmhouse in the area.”
To confirm this, the DNA of the leopard will be matched with the DNAs of other leopards across Pakistan to check if the animal is a local species.
Environmentalist and wildlife expert, Eric Shehzar, told SAMAA Digital that extreme climate and deforestation have made living conditions difficult for leopards.
In a region like Thar, which is barren, things get very difficult for animals as they are exposed all the time. “When there’s no forest cover or trees, they don’t have space to hide,” Shahzar said.
To top it off, the rapidly declining species is also under threat from villagers who attack the animal in a bid to protect their livestock. It’s important to educate and include local communities in the conservation projects, the expert pointed out.
Wildlife officer Ejaz explained that if a leopard or any other wild animal enters a village or a human habitat there are three things that should be done instead of killing it:
After these things, the residents should call the wildlife department, the officer added.