The World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan (WWF-P) released on Wednesday the rare footage of a snow leopard hunting a Himalayan ibex in Khunjerab National Park, located at a distance of approximately 15 kilometres from the Pakistan-China border, to commemorate the World Wildlife Day, observed on March 3 every year.
Aimed at raising awareness about wildlife conservation and threats to the survival of wildlife, the video shows a snow leopard stealthily chasing a herd of Himalayan ibex on steep precipitous cliffs. After successfully capturing an ibex, the snow leopard can be seen feasting on the carcass. The leopard was later joined by two other cats.
The video was recorded by wildlife photographer Muhammad Osama.
According to Osama, he followed the herd of the ibex in biting cold, with the temperature as low as - 18 degrees Celsius, searching for fresh snow leopard pugmarks.
"Capturing this hunt was once in a lifetime experience as it involved hours of tireless tracking, climbing mountains and withstanding freezing cold temperatures", he said.
Speaking on the matter, WWF-P director general Hammad Naqi Khan expressed hope that the video would contribute to raising awareness about wildlife in Pakistan and the need to protect it.
He said wildlife in Pakistan and in the rest of the world faced mounting threats due to deforestation and human encroachment, which led to habitat degradation, while new threats such as unsustainable infrastructure and climate change were also emerging.
As a result, the survival of wildlife, such as snow leopards, Indus River dolphins, common leopards, pangolins, brown bear and white-backed vultures, hangs in the balance, he added.
Khan urged the government to ensure that existing protected areas in the country were managed and restored, so that wildlife could flourish in healthy landscapes.
He further stressed that on World Wildlife Day, all stakeholders, including wildlife departments, commit to protect Pakistan's wildlife through a robust conservation strategy.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2021.
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