Leopard that ran amok in DHA Islamabad was not a pet, Senate body told

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Tuesday was informed the leopard that gave residents of a housing society a scare was a wild animal and that the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) was talking to international experts to release it back into its habitat.

“We suspect that it came from the forest cover behind Sihala where leopard sightings had been reported. We are talking to international experts on how best to release it back into the wild,” Vaqar Zakaria, who is a member of the IWMB, informed the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change.

The committee met to deliberate over various issues such as the leopard roaming in a residential area in Islamabad, budgetary proposals relating to Public Sector Development Fund (PSDP) and the Pakistan Environment Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Official says international experts’ opinion being sought to release animal into its habitat

Last week, a common leopard crept into Defence House Authority (DHA) and injured three people during a six-hour long rescue effort.

Held in the parliament building, members were informed that the leopard was keeping good health and that the IWMB was certain that the common leopard, which was a protected animal under law, was not a pet and had not escaped from captivity.

The board conjectured that leopards were nocturnal animals and this one crept into the settled area in the cover of darkness. However, at the moment, the feline was being kept in a 30×40 cell, where it was stable but was agitated. “Wild animals do not know how to settle in confinements,” Vaqar Zakaria said.

The committee members were informed that the delay in rescue operation was due to lack of adequate and appropriate equipment such as dart guns. Nonetheless, the committee appreciated the efforts of the IWMB.

The Senate body, headed by Senator Seemee Ezdee, while discussing the matter of closure of the Islamabad Zoo, also stressed the need for the facility to be reopened for the residents of Islamabad. It was asserted that core issues must be addressed instead of shutting down recreational places in the city.

In their discussion on budgetary proposals relating to the PSDP, the committee members were informed of various projects that were being funded and the proposed allocations. The proposed budget FY 2023-24 was more than Rs19.7 billion. The committee was informed that a total of eight projects were part of PSDP including three ongoing projects namely climate resilient urban settlements unit, 10 billion trees tsunami programme Phase-I upscaling of Green Pakistan Programme and Capacity Building on Water Quality Monitoring and SDG 6 reporting whereas five new projects were establishment of Margalla Wildlife Centre, Islamabad, setting up of National Specialised Directorate for Chemical and Hazardous Waste Management, Strengthening of National Capacities through piloting of REDD+ for Accessing Result-Based Payments, Zoological Survey of Pakistan and Compilation of Red Data Book and establishment of Botanical Garden in Banigala.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2023

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