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KARACHI: Elsewhere on the globe snow leopards may confront with the extinction threats but Pakistan’s Karakoram range surprised the world with its population growth, WWF-Pakistan said on Saturday.

WWF-Pakistan released a rare footage of two snow leopard cubs found thriving in Dhee Nala in a buffer zone of Khunjerab National Park to mark the International Snow Leopard Day, besides highlighting the amazing predators’ significance to balancing the ecosystem.

The community members reported to the WWF-Pakistan that these leopards in the Karakoram Range are growing their population though globally between 221 and 450 of these big cats are killed yearly.

“A recent WWF report suggests that between 221-450 snow leopards are killed every year globally and around 55 percent of these killings are in retaliation to snow leopard predation on their livestock,” WWF-Pakistan said.

With snow leopards thriving, countless other species and the millions of people whose living depends on rivers flowing down from glaciers in the mountains of the Karakoram range will also have a source to survive, it added.

The remarkable footage that a local wildlife photographer Imtiaz Ahmad grabbed, walks everyone through an amazing natural world of snow leopards.

The rare footage also highlights the significance of snow leopards to the ecosystem with their thriving existence and safe high-altitude habitats in Pakistan.

Imtiaz Ahmad, a keen wildlife photographer, continued to follow these cubs from their birth and kept a vigilant eye until they reached the age of six.

“When I follow these cubs through my lens, I am hopeful about their future,” he told the WWF-Pakistan.

“I have captured this unique footage of snow leopard cubs and have also been developing videos so that my community can learn more about this species, understand how they are linked to our lives, change perceptions around them and save them from extinction,” Imtiaz said.

“We must recognize the importance of the habitat that supports this species, not only for the sustainability of local livelihoods but also the millions of people who live on the plains of which the glaciers provide tonnes of fertile sediment vital for agriculture,” Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan reacted on the film.

The nation, he said, needs to understand and determine that how many animals exist in the range of state counties so that they and their habitats could be effectively managed.

The habitat degradation and unsustainable infrastructure developments, he feared, the survival of many threatened species including the snow leopards is in peril.

Besides, climate change is making it harder to undertake conservation efforts with communities experiencing extreme poverty caused by varying weather challenges, Rab Nawaz said.

Over the past five decades, WWF-Pakistan has been working to restore and conserve endangered wildlife species in the country by supporting the management of national parks.

It also makes efforts to scale down conflicts between snow leopards and communities, boosting rural development, and mitigating illegal wildlife trade, WWF-Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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