HARIPUR: A leopard was shot dead by a villager in a remote village of Ghazi tehsil, wildlife and police officials told The Express Tribune on Sunday.
An official requesting anonymity said the animal somehow strayed into the low-lying settled area, possibly in search of food. It was then gunned down by a villager who claimed he killed the big cat in self-defence when it got too close to his house.
Wildlife District Officer Fazal Ahla said he raided a house in Budha village upon receiving an intelligence report and recovered the dead leopard. He confiscated the carcass and shifted it to District Veterinary Hospital for autopsy, after which it was sent to Peshawar for taxidermy.
Ahla said the accused villager, identified as Akhtar Shah, admitted during questioning that the animal came too close to his house and did not budge despite repeated efforts. “After failing to scare the animal away from the populated area, I shot it with a 12 bore shotgun four times and killed it,” Shah told the media and wildlife authorities.
Under the Wildlife Act 1975, anyone who kills a leopard is liable to pay a fine and could also face a jail sentence. Ahla said Shah had been asked to pay a fine of Rs50,000 and an FIR would be lodged against him if he failed to do so.
In response to a question, Ahla said the leopard was a male adult, aged between 15 to 18 years. The site where the animal was gunned down was neither its habitat nor a thick forest. Circumstantial evidence suggested it strayed into Ghazi area from Khanpur forest in search of food.
He maintained forest areas of Makhniyal, Garmthoon, Najafpur and Kotehra of Haripur district are home to over 10 pairs of local species of leopards.
Four years ago, a leopardess was shot dead in Najafpur, while two months earlier an animal of the same family was killed by unidentified villagers in Galiyat, Abbottabad which houses over 40 pairs of leopards, said another official source.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2013.