The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) has issued a warning to citizens visiting Trails Four and Six of the Margalla Hills after another leopard was spotted there in early February 2021. The Board has spotted five leopards so far through trap cameras.
The Margalla Hills are a permanent habitat for the wildcats. They have adapted to the surroundings and do not come out during the day. The citizens have been advised to stay vigilant as leopards only attack in self-defence.
The common leopard is a critically endangered species and the top predator of the park. Leopards are very territorial and a leopard that knows his or her territory (usually marked by him/her over 50 square kilometre) is much safer than a new leopard that will move in to claim the dead leopard’s territory, wildlife experts shared.
Leopards keep a control on the population of wild herbivores like wild boars, which is important for the health of the forest as herbivores can easily overgraze and that can affect forest regeneration and growth. The Board is of the opinion that there is wide availability of prey for the leopards in the hills, which also provides a safe refuge for breeding purposes. He added that it is illegal to hunt the leopards or harm them in any way. “People visiting the trails or living inside the park have to respect nature and live in co-existence with the rich wildlife found there.
A female common leopard named ‘Shezadi’ by IWMB officials due to its royal carriage has been found to be a permanent resident of territory between Trails 4 and 6. Shezadi has been caught on camera traps set up by the IWMB staff for several evenings in a row in late January, the official maintained.
From the areas that we have sampled using camera traps since 2019, we have identified at least 5 individual common leopards living within the boundaries of the Margalla Hills National Park.
Shezadi is familiar with the trails that humans take and avoids them during the day. Most attacks by leopards on humans are in self-defense while intentional attacks are rare.
Shezadi has been living inside the park, in the territory she has marked and now patrols, as a permanent resident since at least last year. Her rosetta pattern has been identified to be the same one as of a leopard caught on a camera trap in June 2020.
Visitors of Margalla Hills are requested to observe warning signs of leopard territories and to stay on the marked trails and not enter the park when it gets dark, Khan advised. They should preferably hike in groups, refrain from cycling in the park and return half an hour before sunset and enter a full hour after dawn, she stressed.