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Endangered leopard found dead near Haripur’s Margalla Hills

KP wildlife declines to comment on case

SAMAA | - Posted: Feb 19, 2021 | Last Updated: 7 months ago
Posted: Feb 19, 2021 | Last Updated: 7 months ago

Photo: WWF

A common leopard, which is a critically endangered species in Pakistan, was found dead in Haripur’s Margalla Hills near Khanpur on February 16 but the authorities have not been forthcoming about the case.

The news surfaced on social media and was later confirmed by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board.

The death may have occurred due to sudden cardiac arrest or some other natural cause, said the autopsy report by Civil Veterinary Hospital Khanpur. “There were no apparent clinical signs/marks revealing the suspected attempt for unusual death,” it added.

Related: Pakistan scared, fascinated as big cats come out of hiding

After the news was reported, many people contacted the Islamabad wildlife board asking if the dead leopard was Shezadi, a big cat that was spotted between trails 4 and 6 of the Margalla Hills National Park in January. The board had shared her pictures on its social media account after she was spotted. “I can confirm that this leopard is not Shezadi,” an Islamabad wildlife officer told SAMAA Digital.

He said that he doesn’t have more details as the area the leopard was found in falls under the territory of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Forestry, Environment, and Wildlife Department.

The KP department has, however, declined to comment on the matter. This creates difficulties as tracking the presence of such an endangered species is important. The presence of such leopards in Pakistan is known, but there is very little information on the distribution and number of subspecies. A 2018 research paper recorded 15 leopards, with the help of camera trappings, in Swat, Dir, and the Margalla Hills. They used to be commonly distributed but with areas becoming more ‘developed’, their population has decreased, experts say.

Leopards are territorial and a female leopard can mark a territory up to 21 kilometres or more. Sometimes, the territories of males overlap with female leopards.

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