Leopard of endangered species found dead in Kashmir
By Tariq Naqash
Tuesday, 03 Nov, 2009

MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Department has lodged a report with the police station against unknown persons for shooting dead the ‘endangered’ species of the leopard here on Monday.

The department had received information about the killing of a leopard, zoologically known as Panthera Pardus, late on Friday evening after which an official was dispatched to the site early Saturday morning for verification and subsequent investigation into the incident.

In his report submitted here on Monday, Assistant Game Warden Abdul Shakoor informed his high-ups that he had found the body of the animal after walking for some 2km through the forests of Dhanni village, located around 37km northeast of Muzaffarabad along Neelum Valley road.

The almost-decomposed body of the leopard suggested that it had been shot dead around a week ago and hence its skin could not be flayed for stuffing, the report said.

According to the death certificate issued on Monday after an autopsy by veterinary officer Dr Aamir Iqbal, the wild animal had received a fatal bullet in his rare leg which was fired from a close distance.

The autopsy report had also been forwarded to the police to help them in their investigation, the AJK Wildlife Department Director, Sardar Javaid Ayub, told Dawn.

He said the department’s local staff had also been directed to probe on their own to trace persons who had committed this heinous crime.

Mr Ayub however pointed out that non-promulgation of the AJK Wildlife Act 2009 was impeding stringent measures against the killers of wildlife. The piece of law was approved by the AJK cabinet in August this year.

The proposed law not only suggested imposition of fines on the killers, more than double of the market price of concerned species, but also a minimum imprisonment of one year.

It is pertinent to mention here that the authoritative Red List of ‘Threatened Species’ compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Panthera Pardus as ‘near-threatened’ species.

In Pakistan, this species is found in the mountains of Kashmir, the adjoining Murree hills and parts of the NWFP.

Although according to the IUCN Red List, their population is decreasing; however, Mr Ayub said indirect evidence showed that it had been on the rise in AJK over the past eight years or so.

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