How to avoid an attack from leopard?

How to avoid being attacked by a leopard?

ISLAMABAD: A special public awareness manual has been prepared to educate locals and tourists who wish to venture into the ever rejuvenating Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) in order to avert the risk of contact with the endangered common Asian leopard.

The manual has been prepared by senior member of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) Z.B. Mirza. There has been no precedent of human-wildlife conflict in MHNP as the wildcat has a stable number of preys available in the natural environment. The wildcat has 62 different species of wildlife available to it which makes it the apex predator in the park.

However, according to the manual, in 2005 it killed six women in different incidents in areas falling under Ayubia National Park. The leopard is a nocturnal animal that hunts in the early hours of the night or during early mornings. It feeds mainly on barking deer, porcupines, wild boars, livestock animals, donkeys, monkeys, birds, kalij pheasant and so on. A detailed study of the women killed in different leopard attacks revealed that they were off to the jungle to collect wood during evening and early morning hours.

The manual suggests that the people should avoid entering the jungle or forest area during early morning or evening as the leopard remains active in this duration. Local residents should keep a tubelight or bulb on at night, keep livestock including goats locked inside a safer place at night and should be accompanied by some individual for livestock rearing in the woods, it states.

Women and children should be forbidden to enter the jungle alone whereas the former should go in groups to collect wood. Moreover, individuals in the forest should talk loudly and in case of a group one of them should be placed to guard the surrounding. Individuals entering forests should keep a club with them and keep on talking in a loud voice, especially during evening and morning hours. In case of an encounter with the leopard in the wild, it is imperative for the individual to remain composed and patient instead of shouting and running in fear as this reaction will be similar to that of the leopard’s prey, the manual states, adding individuals should instead step backwards and leave the area slowly.

If an individual hears growling sounds, he or she must avoid going into the jungle area, it states and adds that if a female leopard is spotted with her cubs then it is necessary to avoid entering or passing into that area.

In case of a very close encounter with the leopard, individuals should clap with their hands and move their arms or shawl to create an impression that they are bigger in size than the wildcat.

Pakistan Wildlife Foundation Vice President Safwan Ahmed said that internationally there were professional tourist guides entering into the leopard’s territory. Tourists are tagged with transmitters to get their real time location and are also sent into safe areas or zones in the forests. He said there was no population record of leopards earlier in the Margalla Hills National Park but recent studies had revealed a sizeable population of wildcats that needs to be managed wisely to avoid human-wildlife contact.–APP published in Dawn

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