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Asian leopard reserve area inaugurated at Trail 6

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Islamabad: The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant (SAPM) on climate change Malik Amin Aslam on Saturday inaugurated the first-ever common Asian leopard reserve area in the federal capital’s scenic Margalla Hills Trail-6 National Park, which falls in the Kalinjar region.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony at the Trail-6 Visitor Information Center, SAPM said the conservation site will help protect critically endangered wild cat species and promote wildlife tourism in the ‘one of the unique ecosystems in the world near a human settlement.

Amin Aslam commended the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) for their concerted efforts to preserve the common leopard and successfully create a conservation reserve.

“IWMB President Rina Saeed Khan, ZB Mirza and IWMB have worked hard to make this a reality,” he said while appreciating the efforts of the IWMB.

He added that it was imperative to create a balance with nature and to adapt to nature, as the current era of COVID-19 was a reaction to human intrusion into nature. It is a reaction to human conflict with nature that has transferred zoonotic diseases to mankind, he said.

“We didn’t do it (Leopard Preserve) but nature helped it because of nature conservation efforts and favorable environmental conditions,” he said. Amin mentioned that the leopard was critically endangered according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) list of various wildlife.

SAPM said the leopard is the premier of this national park and its absence will disrupt the entire ecosystem. “There are 300 species of birds, 350 species of plants and 20 species of snakes in Margalla Hills National Park, making it an ecosystem rich in biodiversity,” he said.

He added that it was a gift of nature to the nation and that, according to the Prime Minister’s vision, the government would protect it and make it a model national park.

SAPM said there will be guided tours on trail-6 from now on as it will no longer be an open trail due to the presence of leopards. “Although it is a nocturnal animal and is not visible during the day, but thanks to this wildlife tourism initiative, young people and children would learn more about the movement of leopards and their habitat,” he said. -he declares.

It was a method of promoting ecotourism that helped generate healthy revenue for the public treasury, he noted. While sharing his personal experience of detecting leopard footprints at the Trail-6 office, he said: “I myself spotted leopard droppings while hiking at the Trail-6 office, which were then verified by IWMB staff “.

A video documentary based on the IWMB’s journey to develop the leopard reserve prepared by the Board of Directors was presented to the participants with the aim of raising awareness and publicizing the Margalla Hills National Park.

The six-minute documentary was prepared by IWMB on leopards titled Margalla Hills Leopard Kingdom.

Speaking on the occasion, IWMB President Rina Saeed Khan said the IWMB’s protection efforts since 2015 are helping to protect the number of predators and prey in the national park. “The leopard has become a permanent resident of Margalla Hills National Park. It used to come down from higher peaks in winter and leave Margalla in summer, ”she added.

“We have carried out a suitable scientific study of camera traps and placed 20 camera traps throughout 17,000 hectares of national park. A minimum of seven leopards have been captured and there are more likely to be as not all of them have could be captured by cameras, ”said the president of the IWMB. told participants.

She informed that two men and a woman lived in the Kalinjar sector of Trail-6. She added that the Trail-6 was closed after spotting the first leopard and during the COVID-19 lockdown, the biodiversity of the national park flourished, increasing its population. She mentioned that the Snow Leopard Foundation has offered to radio tag Trail-6 for the study of leopards in the national park.

She informed the council would be launching a limited visit once a day with a maximum of 25 people as the goal was not to disturb the leopards. “Leopards are very shy and move around at night.

The tour will be paid for and the board of directors was working on the terms of the initiative, ”she added. A study for the scientific management of the national park was also underway, she said.

“About 9 out of 20 camera traps captured a leopard and one captured an entire family,” she said. She concluded that the leopard was the main predator in the national park that controlled the entire wild population of Margalla Hills National Park.

SAPM and participants walked Trail-6 to observe conservation efforts, leopard droppings and footprints.