Radio collars on leopards to track their movement in Ayubia
From the Newspaper | Zulfiqar Ali |

PESHAWAR, Nov 21: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has launched an expedition to attach radio collar to common leopards in Ayubia National Park to collect data about the wild animal and its habitat.

For the first time in national history, radio collar is being used in Pakistan to monitor movement and activities of common leopards.

The WWF officials told Dawn on Wednesday that under the plan, radio collar would be attached to four common leopards at maximum to help conservators monitor routes and activities of the animal in the region.

They said four cages had been placed in the park, while tracking devices would be attached to them.

According to them, common leopard, which is found in Pakistan, has been declared endangered species because its population has shrunk due to the loss of habitats and conflict between local population and the animal.

Conservators said conflict between local people and the animal occurred when they intruded in each other territory.

They said common leopard had killed two children and injured three in Baren Gali of Abbottabad district in March 2012 and the department had announced Rs10,000 bounty on the wild animal.

WWF Coordinator in Nathagali Mohammad Waseem said common leopard was found in the country’s northern parts, including Abbottabad, Mansehra, Margalla Hills, Chitral and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

“In the past, common leopard was found across the country in large numbers but now, its population is under threat,” he said, adding that 12 leopards were killed in Neelum Valley in retaliatory attacks last year. The local residents kill leopards when they attack cattle or residents.

“Only one leopard was traced in Salt Range in Punjab last year,” he said, adding that the exact numbers of the wildcat were not known.

The officials said radio collar would be used for the first time in Pakistan to monitor movement and activities of the leopards.

WWF, the Wildlife Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and a private documentary film maker company are jointly conducting the project.

The main features of the project are food study, conflict between local population and leopard, and its daily activities in the region. The data will be used for research-oriented activities, according to the WWF coordinator.

An official at the Wildlife Department said the Common Leopard Project was launched in 2011, but the animal could not be trapped so far.

“Two expeditions were carried out in the region in the past but they remained unsuccessful,” he said, adding that the project had been revived.

He said the current expedition, which was launched a few days ago, would continue for at least six months and the minimum of two animals would be caged to install electronic devices on them.

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