The leopard is the only animal which is found in almost every forest of Hazara including Margalla and Muree Hills. Different families of leopards are reported to be seen in the surroundings of Haro River in the following forests.
a) Sarla Reserved Forest: 2 Leopards
b) Margalla Hills Park: 3-4 Leopards
c) Kohala Lassan Reserved Forest: (Siribang area 2 Leopards, Dubran Area 3-4 Leopards, Massah Gojari Area 1-2 Leopards
d) Baroha Bharakahoo Area : 2 Leopards (reported killed)
e) Satoura and Rahi Area : 2-4 Leopards
f) Ayubia National Park and Muree Hills: 15-25 Leopards.
g) Havelian Cantt. Area: 1-2 Leopards.
Now the question arises that why these animal enter the residential areas, grazing lands, grass fields and roadside areas? The answer is very simple “Shrinkage of Habitats and presence of Privately Protected Forests near the villages and roads in community owned Lands.”
Causes Of Habitats Shrinkage:
a) Fuel Wood: The fuel wood pressure has reduced the reserved forests to minimum and compelled the locals to grow their own trees and bushes to fulfill their needs.
b) Over Grazing: The reserved forests are also destroyed by the grazers. Especially the nomads from the cooler areas come down to these forests in the winter. They stay in the reserved forests along with their herds/folks of livestock. They poison the wild animals themselves and also provide this poison to the locals.
c) Smugglers: The timber smugglers have played their part in vanishing reserved forests and Guzaras.
d) Deliberate Fires: Residents of these areas mostly depend on livestock; therefore grass fodder is one of their necessities. To get better grass they have to clean the leaves of pine, bushes, and remaining grass of the last season, they burn the area with out controlling the fire in dry Fire Seasons. This unattended fire spreads all over the area and burns every thing.
Due to the above mentioned facts the forests areas are reducing and turnings in to bare rangelands. The wilds hardly find any safer place/prey in the deep forests. There is no place left for them to hide, there fore all the wild animals including the leopards move to the communities protected areas, closer to the homes, where ever they find any shelter.
In the fire seasons the animals also gather in the safe areas, as they gathered in Galiyat now a days, because this area remained safe in the ending fire season.
When these animals live closer to the human living area, the battle starts. The wild animals kill the livestock of the community living near by and some times they may attack any human of the area. The people intern try to kill these animals to save there livestock and life. The leopards are so fearful that the people can’t trust them and shout for help on sight even if the animal is foar away.
In the Jan 2005 a female leopard with its 2 cubs entered in a private protected area near village Ghandian (Haripur). Their presence was announced in the masjids, people gathered around them and shot dead one of the cubs, after encircling them. The other two hardly escaped.
How to Save These Animals
I have a few suggestions in this regard if practicable:
- The rehabilitation of the reserved forest of the area must be started on missionary basis with the help of Forest/Wildlife Departments, NGOs and all other Agencies involved in conservation. So that the wilds are driven back to the deep forest areas. The reserved forests of the area must be converted into National Parks.
- All types off cutting and grazing must be stopped in the reserved forests and Guzaras at least for 5 years for re-generation process. The land of Hazara is very rich and fertile; it can produce wonderful results, if protected. No plantation is required in any area.
- Environmental education/awareness about the ecosystem amongst the people of the area is the necessity of time. Even if deliberate fire is controlled, a lot is saved. For this purpose some donor organization is required to come forward. People should be paid to clean the leaves and cut the grass instead of burning it along with every thing in the area.
- Each and every development of the area must be related to the environment. For this purpose members of local bodies, CCBs and CBOs can be involved.
- The officials of all related departments should take more pain and work hard, to come up with the requirements of the time. The prevailing laws must be implemented strictly.
- The Haro River Area (The Neglected One) is the corridor in between MHP and ANP and the nursery of wildlife must be given preference. As it is the largest in between two parks, it can provide shelter consider able species of wildlife of the area.
All of the related agencies’ NGOs and green friends/activists are requested to join your hands together and use all your possible potential to save this valuable national treasure.