Over the past decade, dozens of leopards have been shot or poisoned in what wildlife officials fear is the systematic culling of one of Pakistan’s most threatened species. Now, officials are rushing to convince Pakistanis from rural villages – where poverty is widespread and educational facilities are scarce – about the need to protect even those animals they consider to be fearsome.
“The entire ecological system is being disturbed,” said Iftikhar-uz-Zaman, district forest officer in Abbottabad. “The growing human population and their intervention in the natural habitats of leopards is causing rising attacks on humans, and people are retaliating and killing the leopards.”
The precise number of common leopards remaining in Pakistan is not known, but wildlife experts suspect it’s no more than a few hundred. What’s clear, however, is that their numbers are shrinking because of Pakistan’s rapid population growth and its abysmal record of protecting forests.
About 180 million people live in Pakistan, and the UN expects that by 2050 that number will top 300 million. According to various studies, Pakistan has retained only 2% to 5% of its original tree cover, and it’s losing about 27,300 hectares of trees annually.
Small and medium-size mammals that once flourished in northern Pakistan, such as the Himalayan musk deer, are threatened. Now, hungry leopards are showing up around Abbottabad, which became famous in 2011 when the US military killed Bin Laden at a compound here.
You can read the rest of The Guardian article here, where image and text were taken.
Too many humans, so disconnected from the Earth, forget their proper place in the environment - alongside everything else, not on top smothering the life out of everything else.