Herders lament loss of livelihood, retributive killing of the beast is being feared
Moorkhoon, May 25: At least 68 sheep and goats have, reportedly, been killed by a Snow Leopard in the Dhee area of Khunzhrav (wrongly spelled by Khunjerab) National Park.
According to statistics provided by management of the Khunjrab Village Organization (KVO), 23 of the killed animals belonged to Mirza Muhammad and family, 12 to Bahadur, 9 to Aslam , 7 to Ghulam Rasool and 4 to Qalandar Shah.
The farmers are angry about the depredation of livestock by snow leopard. They have reportedly submitted a written complaint against the organization working for preservation of the endangered species. “They tell us about the importance of Snow Leopard but fail to compensate us for the losses incurred due to the predators”, the complainants have reportedly said.
At least 17 sheep and goats had been killed last month in the vicinity of Sost, the border town of Pakistan on the Karakuram Highway.
“There are more than 50 Snow Leopards roaming in the KVO Conservation area”, a wildlife guide of the KVO told this scribe. “The beast is getting disturbed due to massive blasting in the area”, he further said, on the condition of anonymity. “The leopards have moved to the higher mountains and there they can easily attack the cattle pans”, he added. The guide also said that Ibex are now inhabited in lower parts of the meadows due to availability of grass.
Mining, logging, and industrial development degrade and fragment snow leopard habitat. The changes in surroundings push the big cats into less suitable areas, where the climate may be harsher, prey scarcer, or conflicts with humans more likely to occur. All of these factors make it more difficult for the cats to survive. Hence the attacks on human settlements and livestock.
So in many cases, while the leopards survive and grow, life for the peasants and herders becomes difficult due to frequent heavy loss of
livestock. In retaliation they may resort to retributive killing of the wildlife.
“The herders have to be compensated if we want sustainable preservation of the Snow Leopards and other wild animals”, an official of the KVO said, while emphasizing the need for providing incentives to those who lose their property.