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March 4, 2021

WWF-Pakistan releases footage of snow leopard hunting ibex


March 4, 2021

LAHORE:In a rare occurrence, WWF-Pakistan released the footage of a snow leopard hunting a Himalayan ibex in Khunjerab National Park, approximately 15 kilometres from the Pak-China border.

A press release issued by WWF Pakistan on Wednesday said that the video was released to commemorate World Wildlife Day, which aims to raise awareness about wildlife conservation and threats to their survival.

The video shows a snow leopard stealthily chasing a herd of Himalayan ibex on precipitous cliffs. After successfully capturing an ibex, the snow leopard can be seen feasting on the carcass, who is then joined by two other cats.

The video, which was recorded by a wildlife photographer, Muhammad Osama, shows the elusive cat in its natural habitat hunting for prey, indicating a healthy and thriving ecosystem that supports large populations of Himalayan ibex and snow leopards in the area.

According to Muhammad Osama, wildlife photographer, he followed the ibex herd in the brutal cold with the temperature as low as -18 C while searching for fresh snow leopard pugmarks, which eventually confirmed the presence of leopards in the area. Since snow leopards are crepuscular in nature, the search took place during dawn and dusk. “Capturing this hunt was once in a lifetime experience as it involved hours of tireless tracking, climbing mountains, and withstanding freezing cold temperatures”, he added.

Sharing his comments on the video, Hammad Naqi Khan, director general, WWF-Pakistan, said, “ I hope it would create awareness about the incredible wildlife found in Pakistan and our responsibility to protect it.”

He also shared that many species in Pakistan, and globally, face mounting threats due to deforestation and human encroachment which lead to habitat degradation, while new threats such as unsustainable infrastructure and climate change are also emerging.

As a result, the survival of wildlife such as the snow leopard, Indus River dolphin, common leopard, pangolins, brown bear and white-backed vultures hangs in the balance.

WWF’s Living Planet Report 2020 shows that in less than 50 years, human activity has resulted in wildlife populations plummeting by an average of 68 per cent globally. If serious efforts are not made, some of these animals will head to extinction in the near future.

With wildlife constituting a critical part of the ecosystem, this biodiversity loss will result in a planet that cannot support current and future generations of people.

Khan also urged that the government should ensure that the existing protected areas in the country should be managed and restored, so that wildlife can flourish in healthy landscapes. He further stressed that on World Wildlife Day, all stakeholders, including the wildlife department, should commit to protect Pakistan’s incredible wildlife through a robust conservation strategy. For more than five decades, WWF-Pakistan has been making all possible efforts to restore and conserve endangered wildlife species in the country by supporting the management of national parks, increasing prey population, addressing human wildlife conflict and illegal wildlife trade.

Prior to filming the snow leopard hunt, in January 2021, WWF-Pakistan’s filming crew also filmed a herd of 50 Himalayan ibex near Passu Glacier in Hunza Valley. The spotting was an encouraging sign, indicating that apex predators such as the snow leopard have enough food to survive on.

Although these places are important as habitats for snow leopards and other wildlife, they also have immense significance for the millions of people downstream who depend on the area’s precious glacier waters for their livelihoods and drinking water.

The snow leopard hunt film, produced by Nyal Mueenuddin Films, is now available on WWF-Pakistan’s Youtube channel, the statement concluded.

UVAS: The Department of Wildlife and Ecology of University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS), Lahore, observed World Wildlife Day with the theme “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet.” Various activities, including an awareness walk, seminar and informative lectures were arranged to create awareness about wildlife among students and the general public. Department of Wildlife and Ecology Chairman Dr Arshad Javid led the walk while Prof Dr Athar Mahmud, Prof Dr Saima and a number of professionals, faculty members and students participated in it.

The walk started from Zoological Museum and culminated at Academic Block, C-Block, Ravi Campus, Pattoki. Dr Syed Muhammad Irteza from National Centre of Geographical Information System (GIS) and Space Applications, Punjab University, Lahore, delivered a lecture on ‘Role of GIS and Remote Sensing in Forest Management’ while Dr Muhammad Zahid, deputy director, Punjab Wildlife &Parks Department, delivered a lecture on ‘Sustaining People and Planet: Legislative Approaches.’