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    People of Chitral highly disappointed on disappearance of Snow Leopard since long time

    By Zahiruddin

    CHITRAL: The people in Chitral expressed their apprehensions over the disappearance of snow leopard from Chitral for the last seven years which used to be sighted in the vicinity of Chitral town in Toshi Shaha conservancy and Chitral Gol National Park (CGNP) during the winter season.

    The people used to flock to Toshi pasture located on Garam Chashma Road to watch the wild cat resting in the hill foot on the other side of the river which is situated at a distance of only twenty minutes drive from the city.

    The animal descended to the lower areas in search of food when the forests and high mountains received heavy snow forcing the small wild animals including markhor and ibex to the lower areas which are the cherished food of the leopard.

    Shafiqullah Khan, regional program manager of Pakistan Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (PSLEP) confirming the disappearance of the wild cat from the vicinity of the town, said that it was last time sighted in 2013.

    He said that the animal had a wide home range which extended to the Nooristan area of Afghanistan along the Hindu Kush range of mountains which included the upper part of Chitral in Torkhow and Terich valleys.

    Mr. Khan said that the presence of snow leopard in Lonkoh Terich of Upper Chitral was detected through camera trapping in 2015 while it has not been sighted with naked eye in any area of the district since then.

    He dispelled the total disappearance of the animal from Chitral and said that recent predations in Koghuzi area of Koh union council of lower Chitral and its paw marks in Barghuzi and Mori  showed its presence in the area.

    The Islamabad-based deputy director of Snow Leopard Foundation, Jaffar Uddin said that the sighting of common leopard and lynx in CGNP and Tushi area  in vicinity of Chitral town  during the past three to five years suggested the departure of snow leopard from the lower Chitral.

    He said that on the arrival of common leopard and lynx in an ecological area takes place only  when the snow leopard deserts the area for good and this happens due to climate change phenomenon and  this case, the snow leopard has moved to seek habitation in higher altitudes.

    He insisted that the snow leopard is highly elusive animal which camouflaged itself easily while camera trapping had  been banned due to security reasons in the higher altitude pastures of its habitations of Terich and Torkhow in upper Chitral and some areas in lower Chitral.

    He said that to preserve the endangered species of snow leopard, its habitat needed to be protected and with this aim in view, PSLEP has been launched here which  carries out community based activities in the areas in proximity to the known habitats of the wild animal.

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