A female leopard, which had got stuck in a cable net claimed to have been installed to trap crop-raiding animals in a village, died in Muzaffarabad in March 2019.

The two-and-a-half-year-old leopard, zoologically known as Panthera Pardus, was recovered by the AJK wildlife guards from Khaniyan village , almost 18 hours after it was ensnared and subsequently wounded critically.

The wildlife department had to invite wildlife guards from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to sedate, transport and rehabilitate the big cat as it did not possess the requisite expertise and equipment.

The team sedated the beast with the help of three tranquillising darts, stitched a deep wound on the spot and transported it to Muzaffarabad

In Muzaffarabad, three veterinary doctors stitched injured animal’s wounds and administered some other medicines to rehabilitate it but to no avail.

“In spite of our best possible efforts, the leopard did not survive and died,” said Naeem Iftikhar Dar, a senior officer of the AJK wildlife department.

He said the body had been sent for flaying of skin and subsequent stuffing.

The authoritative Red List of ‘Threatened Species’ compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies Panthera Pardusas “near threatened” species.

In Pakistan, this species is found in the mountains of Kashmir, adjoining Murree hills and parts of KP.

Though the IUCN Red List says the population of leopards is decreasing but AJK wildlife department claims that “indirect evidences” have shown that the same has increased in their area over the past decade.

“The increase has led to the shrinkage of available habitat of the big cats which is why some animals occasionally descend on human populations in search of space and food,” Mr Dar said.

“And when these animals kill livestock they are attacked by villagers,” he added.

He said within the past two months, it was the sixth leopard that had died as a result of “human-leopard conflict” which warranted mitigation measures on the part of the government.

He regretted that his department was ill-equipped to handle such situations.

According to him, lack of rehabilitation centres, trained staff and vets specialising in treatment of wildlife species had been hampering conservation efforts in AJK.