A wild snow leopard that had been captured by villagers in Misgar valley after raiding their livestock was released safely by Gilgit Baltistan Wildlife Department officials.
At 6.00pm on February 22, 2017 the SLF Gilgit office was informed by the General Secretary of Wildlife Conservation and Social Development Organization (WCDO) about the capture of an adult Snow Leopard by the community members of Misgar valley. The incident was immediately reported to all concerned offices. The Conservator, Wildlife and Parks Department, Gilgit Baltistan called a meeting at 9.00am next day which was attended by senior officials of the department, representatives of WWF, WCS and SLF. Jaffar Ud Din, Assistant Director, led SLF delegation in the meeting.
Realizing the sensitivity of the incident based on significant human-cat conflicts in the valley and prime focus on the health and safe release of the cat, all officials in the meeting discussed several options in detail. The SLF team gave its input to derive a realistic and least complicated solution to resolve the issue. Due to livestock losses and the community distress, it was eminent that a safe release would only be possible by offering compensation package. Wildlife department pledged to enhance the ibex trophy hunting quota for Misgar and to engage two persons from the community as Wildlife Guards. WCS assured its support in capacity building of the conservation organization in the valley. SLF agreed to initiate livestock insurance scheme in Misgar under the condition that the community agreed to release the snow leopard.
Without any delay, a team comprising of Jaffar Ud Din (SLF), senior officers of Wildlife Department, WCS and media persons led by Conservator, Wildlife and Parks Department left for Misgar. The team reached Misgar at 5.00pm and found a large number of community members already gathered at the place there the snow leopard had been captured. Attaullah (Nabardar of Misgar Valley) narrated the incident of capture and told how four snow leopards were present in the valley for last many days causing heavy loss of livestock. He stated that villagers were furious because of their livestock losses and would only release the snow leopard after being compensated in the shape of cash, corrals improvement, and job offers to four community members.
As the negotiations started, Attaullah highlighted the role of the SLF team in stopping the villagers from killing snow leopards in such cases, which had been done for many decades. He expected to get more support in the future, especially in preventing the killing of livestock. Ghulam Muhammad Conservator Wildlife Department thanked the community for not harming the snow leopard and assured full cooperation and support. He agreed to engage two persons as Wildlife Guards along with enhancing the trophy hunting quota for ibex. Jaffar Ud D
Negotiations with Misgar community
in, Assistant Director SLF, thanked the community for turning into conservationists from poachers due to efforts by SLF in the valley. Jaffar further added that SLF was already aware of the situation in the valley and had initiated the livestock insurance scheme which had been discussed with community members in the past. SLF is working on a suitable mechanism that is mutually acceptable and workable.
Negotiations continued till 6:30pm, when some of the community members agreed to release the snow leopard, provided that it is released outside the valley and the commitments are fulfilled. As moving the snow leopard in the dark was not wise, it was transferred and released inside the Khunjerab National Park
(KNP) the next morning. After the release, the community of Misgar met the team at the entrance of KNP. The Secretary Forest, Wildlife, and Environment, GB briefed the community about the upcoming projects that can be used to compensate losses of the community. The community members thanked the Secretary and SLF for considering the plea of the community. It is pertinent to highlight the role of Ministry of Climate Change Government of Pakistan in the release of snow leopard. Syed Rizwan Mehboob (Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Climate Change & Green Pakistan Programme) played an inspirational role from the beginning till successful release. Syed Mahmood Nasir (Inspector General Forests) was also very instrumental during the whole incident. They were continuously backing up all the persons involved in safe release of the Snow Leopard.
Release of Snow Leopard at KNP
Snow Leopard released into the wild