BATKHELA: A leopard that went missing from Safari Park of Rangmala Peran in Batkhela area of Malakand Agency was shot down on Wednesday.
The leopard was captured after it killed two teenagers in Thandiyani area of Abbottabad district and brought to the park last year in November. It went missing from his cage on November 22 due to the alleged negligence of the Malakand Wildlife Department.
Safari Park Rangmala Peran in-charge Ziaur Rahman said they were informed early Wednesday that the leopard had been gunned down by unidentified man using an AK-47 rifle in the mountainous region of Jam Patai.
“We reached the site and shifted the animal’s bullet-riddled body to Peshawar,” said Rahman.
Meanwhile, an official of the Malakand Levies, Shakeel Pervaiz said that after the animal went missing, people in the agency were in a state of panic.
“Even wildlife officials announced via loudspeakers at mosques that the animal was to be killed if found.”
“Wildlife officials knew better than anyone that the killing of this endangered species meant pushing the animal closer to the brink of extinction,” Rights Activist Mehboob Rahman told The Express Tribune.
He condemned the announcement of concerned officials regarding the killing of the leopard, adding that they should have asked levies and forest rangers to capture it instead.
Rahman demanded that a special wildlife team visit the area and investigate how the animal went missing and why it was killed by an unidentified person. “No one can prove that the leopard has hunted even a single cattle in the agency.”
An official from the wildlife department in Peshawar, Muhammad Niaz, confirmed the dead leopard had been shifted to Peshawar and that the body is kept in a freezer.
“We will stuff it,” said Niaz, adding that its skin has been peeled off. He maintained the Malakand Wildlife Department will further probe the killing.
According to wildlife department officials of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, there are at least 30 to 35 leopards in the forests of Galiat, Thandiyani, Mansehra, Kaghan and Naran. However, they said wild animals are moving to populated city areas due to arbitrary deforestation.
WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT IN PESHAWAR.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2012.