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March 30, 2019

Human population narrowing leopards’ migration corridors: official

National

March 30, 2019

ABBOTTABAD: The human-leopard conflict is a challenge for the people living near the leopard habitat especially in Galiyat where as many as 80 leopards were killed having corridors connected to Murree, Kashmir, Thandiani and Kaghan valley during last 25 years, said an official on Friday.

"The leopards were killed either in self-defence or retaliation. A total of 12 humans, mostly women, were also mauled by leopards during the same period besides 32 others who sustained injuries. The number of cattle lost was put at 1000," said Iftikhar Ahmed, DFO, Wildlife, in an interactive session with media here.

The official said the expansion of human settlements has been narrowing the natural migration corridors of leopards due to increased population. "As large predators, leopards require extensive home ranges, habitat fragmentation is forcing leopards to pass through human settlements, and while migrating they are more likely to come into contact with people," he explained.

Showing two common leopards in the cages made in the Wildlife office, Iftikhar Ahmed said that they cannot be transported to Lalazar zoo at Nathiagali due to the severity of the weather.

The official said that Abbottabad Wildlife Division comprises of two districts and four wildlife divisions with a total area of 3694 sq km, which has 22 blocks and 102 beats. He said that four conservation areas and six-game reserves include protected areas management beside Ayubia National Park.

About the conservation education, he told that they have formed wildlife clubs in 16 schools where lectures and excursions were made for awareness raising of the communities. Similarly, community organizations and park management committees were formed in Bakot, Malach, Kundla, Toheedabad, Lahur kas and Mohra which, he believes, were a unique feature of the Wildlife Department.

He said a number of activities for promoting ecotourism which included the development of tracks, biological interpretation board, information centre, Lala Zar Wild Life Park, souvenir shop, camping sites and tuck shops.

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