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EDITORIAL: Hemingway wondered what the leopard was seeking whose frozen carcass he found at the snow-covered top of Kilimanjaro. But there is not much to wonder about three leopards that were seen roaming about in the tourist village of Saidpur in the foothills of the Margallas last week. They were hungry and ate up a goat; but more importantly they wanted to reclaim their natural habitat that is being lost to humans. Their habitat is under threat of human occupation that is mushrooming in the shape of restaurants and shops, and pollutes their crystalline habitat by dumping of waste.

Also they don’t want to be killed by the villagers who poison them to death to secure their livestock, while they co-live with vast variety of birds, plants and snakes in 17,000 hectares of Margalla Hills National Park. There are barking bears, pangolin, pheasants, two dozen caged peacocks and rich crops of flora and fauna. This human invasion of the wildlife kingdom is not by mistake; it is by design, helped as it has been by some concerned government agencies.

How come then why the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board is so helpless in protecting this natural habitat of wildlife and the Capital Development Authority is so aggressive as it allows constructions even when it had no such mandate? Possibly, that may not be so in future - the Board has been successful in getting a landmark court verdict against restaurants, but minus the CDA-owned Monal Restaurant that has been granted stay order by the Supreme Court against the IHC verdict.

Islamabad is one of the few world capital towns that sits so handsomely in the cozy lap of lush green mountains. To be in that range is certainly a matter of great pleasure, as even its very sight is so pleasing. Its sanctity against both legalized and illegal intrusions is now at stake.

Of course the concerned authorities want to save leopards, but they’re not much concerned about restoring the Margallas to its pristine glory and biodiversity- rich ecosystem. They want visitors to keep coming, and for that they have promised safe travel through its hiking trails by advising the walkers to move in groups and guided tours to forest areas. In nutshell, they want the Margallas to be a big zoo where you can see animals imprisoned in cages.

Let us spare the Margallas of human tread and let it regain its originality – for some years if not permanently. Let people visit other picnic spots in the capital which may not be wild as Margallas but are equally pleasing to the eye and play around. Also let us switch off the road lights as they scare the wild animals who can otherwise see through the darkness.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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