Leopard sightings panic residents of Saidpur Village in Islamabad

A contingent of Islamabad Capital Police has been deployed in Saidpur village, after rare appearance of leopards in Saidpur village of Islamabadlocated next to the protected area in Margalla Hillscaused panic among residents.

People were requested to stay indoors through announcements made through mosques.

The locals reported that they saw at least three adult leopards entering the residential areas on Thursday evening and hunt a goat. Blurry videos, only a few seconds long, posted on social media, however, showed frightened residents of the area only. No leopards could be seen in those videos.

Responding immediately to the alarms raised by residents of the area, a contingent of Islamabad Capital Police was deployed in Saidpur village. Wildlife officials were also quick to respond after receiving the information that a few leopards were spotted inside Saidpur village. An Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) team also surveyed the area to ensure the safety of the masses and the endangered wild cats.

IWMB staff on the ground confirmed on Friday that “no goats were killed or injured. Leopard(s) didn’t even enter into the village and ran away into the forest” after widespread panic.

The locals had gathered on the spot like “spectators of a fun fair”, which was risky as the wild animal, human shy in nature, could have been provoked and instigated by human sounds of hooting and rumpus and might have attacked them, said IWMB official who maintained that he was a local resident of Saidpur.

IWMB chair Rina Saeed Khan said there were only two to three leopards maximum. “They only entered the last house [in the village] where there were some goats. They have left and gone back into the forest.” She said that over the years Saidpur had “expanded illegally” into the national park which is home to the leopards. “The national park is a refuge for common leopards, a vulnerable species” and humans should not be encroaching into the national park area.

Saidpur village is located in the foothills of Margalla Hills National Park, which is home to rich biodiversity, including leopards. An IWMB study last year suggested that at least five leopards live in the park spread over 12,600 hectares. Hikers and villagers had already asked to avoid hills after sunset.

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