Wildlife staff save rare leopard cat, arrest poachers
ISLAMABAD: The Punjab and Islamabad wildlife departments carried out a joint operation that saved a rare leopard cat that was being sold on the black market for Rs45,000 and arrested two poachers.
Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Field Supervisor Zaheer Khan told Dawn on Saturday that the cat, which is extremely rare, was trapped in the Margalla Hills and the poachers were trying to sell it on the black market on College Road.
“They had also posted an advertisement on Facebook. That’s how one of our volunteer staff members, Mohibullah, found out and reported the case, and both the wildlife board and the Punjab Wildlife Department responded,” he said.
Field officers first approached the poachers as interested buyers and made a down payment. The poachers, both Rawalpindi residents, were arrested at the meeting point at Faizabad when they came to deliver the cat.
“The leopard cat is safe and unharmed and out of danger now,” Mr Khan said.
IWMB Assistant Director Fahim Changwani said the Margalla Hills National Park used to be home to a variety of creatures, but intrusions and illegal trapping has caused their numbers to dwindle.
The number of leopard cats in the hills is not known, but Mr Changwani said there are probably less than half a dozen to be found in the national park.
Slightly bigger than an ordinary cat and often confused from a leopard cub, the leopard cat is almost extinct in the Margalla Hills. Its trade and trapping is illegal.