By Hasnain Raza Gardezi
ISLAMABAD, Feb 3 (APP):The residents of Shahdara village Islamabad are living under constant fear after leopard has killed many of their domesticated animals in last several days, restricting public mobility during early and late hours.
The residents sharing their ordelas with APP said that more then two dozens of their goats and half a dozen cows and calfs in a couple of months have been hunted by leopard, inflicting huge financial loss to them.
“My cow was killed in a radius of just 200 meters from the house couple of weeks back suspectedly by a leopard as the villagers have seen it moving with a pair of cubs nearby our habitations ” said Zakir Hussain a local.
The mosque’s cleric, Abdul Rashid, who leads the prayers sharing similar story said, he was just paid a monthly remuneration of Rs 8, 000 and had purchased a cow to have milk for his family but it was killed by a leopard hiding in nearby forest. ”
I may not be able to afford to buy another one”, he expressed his feeling in a heart-stricken mood.
Goats were leopard’s easy targets and villagers’ more than two dozen goats in a couple of month were being hunted and its not a single cat there were possibly more than one big cats in the forest connecting the village,said Saghir Hussain another dweller of Shahdara.
A resident Maan Ali sharing his story said, “My goat is missing for the last two days and it is for sure that it has been picked by a leopard, preying domesticated animals for the last many days in the area,”
A villager requesting not to be named told that a group of villagers last week on an information that a leopard is noticed in the area chased it, equipped with guns and axes, to kill it in a fit of rage but failed to overpower it and it disappeared in nearby thick forest.
“Thanks God no incident of leopard attack on human is as yet reported but we are all afraid about our children who have to daily go to schools and are more prone to an attack,” Zaheer Shah another native remarked.
Villagers let their livestock free that include cows, calfs, oxen, goats and sheep and they return back home after grazing but if an animal does not come back in the evening it is assumed that it has become a big cat’s feed.
“The rampant hunting of livestock by leopard is a matter of great concern as besides panic and fear it was inflicting heavy financial loss to the residents because an average cow costs more then Rs 100,000 and a goat’s price starts from Rs 20,000 and goes up to Rs 60,000, ” Haji Qudoos of the same village remarked. There was no authority where poor residents may register a complaint or claim their loss, he lamented.
“There was so much panic in the area that nobody dares to move alone during late and early hours of darkness and people go in groups to collect fire wood from the jungle in a day light even” residents disclosed. They also demanded protection of their livestock which was their bread and butter.
When contacted an official of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), Sakhawat Hussain said there were two families of leopards in Margalla Hills National Park(MHNP) and they were approximately five to six according to statistics recently collected by the board. Vilage Shahdara falls in the same terrain of MHNP, he added.
Sakhawat said leopards normally do not enter in the human settlements but due to shrinking of wildlife habitat and paucity of prey animals in the forest big cat’s were hunting pet animals.
Sakhawat also admitted to receive a couple of complaints from villagers seeking indemnity against leopard’s attacks but he regretted that the IWMB has no compensation fund to redress their concerns.
He however stressed the need to create such fund with the help of community as initiated by the people of Khyber PakhtunKhwa (KPK) . He also cited an example of Ayyubia where KPK wildlife department compensated a victim in a leopard’s attack.
“The compensation would help protect rare and exotic wildlife and community must be involved to create awareness, otherwise in a fit of rage in Shahdara like incidents people will kill leopards that already come under endangered species in Pakistan, ” Sakhawat warned.
By Hasnain Raza Gardezi