Family members of a labourer killed by a leopard in the forests of Bagnotar blocked the Karakoram Highway in protest, on Tuesday and demanded Rs1 million as compensation for the father of five.
This was the fourth leopard attack since last year, which has claimed three lives. The earlier attacks took place in the forests of Nathiagali and Thandiani, officials and villagers said.
Walidad, 46, was attacked by a leopard while he was passing through the forest, according to his younger brother Zardad. Walidad, who belonged to Jahanian village was on his way to Khana village to attend a funeral.
“After learning three hours later that he had not turned up at the funeral, we started searching for him and found his body in Ochaar forest,” he said. Walidad had wounds on his head and body and his neck had been broken. Villagers took the body to Benazir Shaheed Hospital for an autopsy.
The villagers, who have lost two children and several cattle heads in earlier attacks by leopards, were infuriated at the latest assault by the feline.
The protesters marched towards Shuhada-e-Hazara Chowk, where they placed the coffin in the middle of the Karakoram Highway, suspending the flow of traffic for an hour.
They chanted slogans against the wildlife authorities for not taking measures to protect human life and livestock in the forest area and demanded the registration of an FIR against wildlife officials. The villagers agreed to vacate the highway after the police intervened.
Meanwhile, Divisional Wildlife Officer Muhammad Arif Aurakzai confirmed that the labourer’s injuries were consistent with a leopard attack.
He said that wildlife staff has been sent to the forest to catch the killer leopard to prevent further loss of life.
The Thandiyani and Nathiagali forest ranges are home to over 80 leopards.
A leopard that killed two children and several goats and buffaloes last year was caught and has been caged in the Abbottabad wildlife office for the last three months.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.
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