Citizens requested to observe guidelines while visiting, hiking Margalla hills

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Sighting of leopards in Saidpur Village

Zubair Qureshi

The Islamabad police and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) have cautioned the hikers and park visitors to observe the warning signs of leopard territories, stay on the marked trails, avoid the hills after it gets dark and observe the guidelines.

Leopards are nocturnal animals and the park belongs to the wildlife at night. Humans should not be using the trails at night, says IWMB chairperson Rina S Khan.

A study by IWMB last year suggested that at least five leopards lived in the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP), which indicated a healthy ecosystem of the park spread over 12,600 hectares.

The reports regarding presence of at least three adult leopards in Saidpur village of Islamabad panicked the residents and alarmed the authorities for the last couple of days.

The local people said that they spotted leopards entering the residential areas and attacking livestock soon after sunset on Thursday.

Local media reported people seeing at least three leopards near their homes. The police and wildlife officials immediately responded to the alarms raised by residents of Saidpur.

The Islamabad Police requested the citizens to remain calm and said they have deployed security in the village.

The IWMB officials said that they surveyed the area and assured that there was no need to panic.

In the the latest update on leopard sightings inside the national park in Saidpur village, IWMB staff on the ground confirmed on Friday that “no goats were killed or injured.

Leopard(s) didn’t even enter into the village and ran away into the forest” after widespread panic. IWMB chair Rina Saeed Khan said there were only two to three leopards.

“They only entered a house in the village where there were some goats. They have left and returned to the forest.” She said too much urbanization in Saidpur had infringed on the green territories of the national park which is home to the leopards.

The park is a refuge for common leopards, a vulnerable species and humans should not be encroaching into the national park area.

Saidpur village is located in the foothills of Margalla Hills National Park in Islamabad.

Islamabad’s national park is home to rich biodiversity including leopard, barking deer, Chinkara gazelle, golden jackal, red fox, porcupines, pangolin, and grey goral. Monkeys and wild boars are the two most frequently seen animals.

Officials say people visiting the national park and the communities living inside the park will “have to respect nature and live in co-existence with the wildlife found there”

The Common Asian Leopard Preservation Zone was inaugurated in Islamabad on January 1, 2022 by the then Prime Minister Imran Khan.

So far, it has proven a safe habitat to the critically endangered Asian leopards in Islamabad’s Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

Established in the Kalinjar area of Trail-6, just behind the Faisal Mosque, the 10-15 km radius zone is fenced and protected from public entry.

The Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) allows only a limited number of tourists, up to 20, for a guided tour. This is done to maintain a healthy ecosystem and save the wild animals from frequent public interaction.Trail-6 has been the area where leopards were frequently spotted and only a guided tour is allowed there, that too on Sundays.

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