By Hasnain Raza Gardezi
ISLAMABAD, Feb 24 (APP):The leopards family on rampant for many days in Shahdara village of the Federal Capital has extended their killing spree to other nearby localities perishing over a dozen of domesticated animals of different residents.
Sharafat Hussain, a resident of Choo Bangla, an adjoining town with Shahdara, said he had a herd of animals, and lost two mules and three goats just in a week and was now keeping them under strict surveillance to avoid further loss. “Goat farming is my profession and livelihood of my family and this financial loss is too heavy for me to recover,” he added.
Irshad Ahmad, a barber residing in the same vicinity, said his cow was hunted last Tuesday while three of his brother Akmal’s goats were also killed by the uncontrolled killer cats in a couple of weeks.
A butcher Haseeb Ahmed, sharing an identical story, said he had also lost three goats to the cats, which were consistently killing poor villagers’ animals and no remedy was in sight to protect their hard earned nest eggs.
Haseeb, who has three visionary impaired brothers by birth, expressed grave concern over their safety and asked the authorities concerned to bring them out of the fear hampering their free mobility.
Expanding the scale of their killing spree, the leopards, which residents think are more than three, also took two cows and two goats of Mungial village. The victims, Yasir Shah and Qasim Shah said they were showing restraints to protect the endangered species and demanded the authorities concerned to cage the leopards.
“We are losing our patience as more than five villages/towns have sacrificed their precious livestock and many of the victims are too poor that they cannot afford to purchase new animals.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the residents of Shahdara have recently raised their voice against unprecedented loss of their livestock by the big cats. A number of national and international electronic and print media teams visited the affectees and raised their concern to the relevant authorities but to no avail.
Villagers in the Margalla Hills terrain, stretched to Murree, let their cows, calfs, oxen, goats and sheep free for grazing, an only affordable source to feed them.
When contacted, an official of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Sakhawat Hussain said there were two families of leopards in the Margalla Hills National Park(MHNP) with approximately five to six members according to the statistics carried out by the IWMB recently. Vilage Shahdara falls in the same terrain of MHNP, he added.
Sakhawat said,”Leopards normally do not enter in the human settlements, but shrinking of wildlife habitat and paucity of prey animals in the forest are major reasons of the big cat’s hunting pet animals.”
He also admitted to receive a couple of complaints from villagers seeking indemnity against the leopard’s attacks but he regretted that the IWMB had 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 (KP). He also cited an example of Ayyubia where the KP Wildlife Department had compensated a victim in a leopard’s attack.
“The compensation will help protect rare and exotic wildlife, and the community must be involved to create awareness, otherwise in a fit of rage in Shahdara like incidents, the people will kill leopards that already come under endangered species in Pakistan, ” Sikhawat warned.