IN an encouraging sign for advocates of animal welfare, the World Wide Fund for Nature, along with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department, has initiated a programme to track leopards in Ayubia National Park with radio collars. As reported in this paper, the collars will aid conservationists in monitoring the routes and activities of the animal found in the northern regions of the country. The leopard has become threatened in Pakistan for reasons that are not new; as the human population increases and encroaches upon the animal’s natural habitat, a struggle for survival between man and beast ensues, with the former prevailing. At least a dozen leopards were killed last year after the big cats attacked humans and livestock. Radio collars have also been used to successfully track the common leopard’s more elusive cousin — the snow leopard — as well as turtles, hog deer, falcons and the houbara bustard.
Reliable data can give conservationists an accurate idea about an animal’s movement patterns and habitat, while getting precise figures about animal populations is important. These activities help in the scientific management of endangered animal populations as well as planning and research activities. Though conservationists admit that tagging beasts such as leopards is not an easy task, mainly due to their nocturnal nature, if done successfully it can yield positive results where conserving and protecting threatened animals is concerned. As it has rightly been pointed out by wildlife activists, the more that is known about animals, the better we can protect them so that both man and beast can live in relative harmony. Conservationists have also launched campaigns to involve local communities in wildlife protection activities, including efforts to save the snow leopard. This is essential if conservation efforts are to be successful in the case of various species of leopard or other threatened animals.