MoU signed for snow leopard conservation

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Wildlife Department and the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for conducting survey, using satellite transmitters, in the Chitral district to gather latest information about snow leopard.

“The objective of the project is to improve planning for conservation of snow leopard which is endangered specie worldwide,” said the chief conservator wildlife NWFP, Dr Mumtaz Malik told APP here on Wednesday.

The survey, he said, would be conducted under the Protected Area Management Projected (PAMP) funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The GEF, he continued, has launched the PAMP in the Hangool National Park in Balochistan, Machiara National Park in Azad Kashmir and Chitral Gol National Park in the Chitral district of the NWFP.

Under the project, Dr Mumtaz said, officials of the Wildlife Department, WWF and international scientists would visit the Chitral district to collect information about snow leopard.

During the survey, some leopards would be trapped and fixed with satellite transmitter for observing their movement. The scientists will also collect dropping of leopards for their genetical analysis.

Similarly, automatic cameras would also be installed to take snaps of leopards for ascertaining their number. Currently, he said, according to rough estimates population of snow leopard in the NWFP is around 50 to 70. These leopards are found in Chitral, Dir Khohistan, the Swat district and high altitude areas of Azad Kashmir. The project, he said, would take around two years in completion and will benefit the Wildlife Department and the WWF in improving their conservation strategy. The findings of the project will also assist in improving management plan of national parks besides capacity building of communities involved in conservation of wild species.

The chief conservator wildlife informed that the snow leopard is facing extinction due to poaching because of high price of its skin in international market, killing by shepherds to avoid hunting of livestock and due to loss of habitat. The department, he said, has constituted communities to provide protection to the animal and establish protected areas.

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