Sir Peter Scott Fund project: Common Leopard, Pakistan

'Leopard conservation in Pakistan'

Objective

  • To manage human-Leopard conflict in Pakistan

Background

In the coniferous forests of the Abbotabad District of Pakistan, this project seeks to minimise the human-Leopard conflict that has developed due to predation on livestock and several fatal attacks on local people by one rogue animal.

The Common Leopard (Panthera pardus), has become extremely uncommon in Pakistan, mainly due to retaliatory killings by herders and habitat fragmentation.

The Ayubia National Park is an important Leopard site and focus area for this project. As well as a tourist hot-spot, the area is a source of wood fuel and fodder collection for the local communities, of which there are 12 villages with roughly 5,000 households.

Project updates

(April 2008) To counter community fear and aggression towards leopards, the project launched an environmental education programme to train local school teachers.

Fifteen teachers from ten different schools participated in the training. The subjects included the negative impacts of Leopard killing on biodiversity and ways to reduce the risk of attacks on local people via lectures, discussions and role playing.

Ten school ‘nature clubs’ were created and 150 students registered as club members as a result.

In combating the economic losses caused by Leopards, the ‘Environment friendly livestock insurance scheme’ launched in March 2006, is now being piloted in three villages of Abbotabat. Government and other regionally active organizations have shown interest in supporting the initiative, which has so far compensated more than thirty livestock owners in other areas where animals have been predated by Leopards.

In the region, women are largely responsible for the livestock rearing so specific training was given on how to protect themselves from Leopard attacks whilst out in the forests. This knowledge was also communicated to the larger community via the region’s media.

Future work will include a further roll out of the training sessions, livestock predation surveys to assess the extent of Leopard impact on local livelihoods, plus continued work on the insurance.
 

(December 2008) The project has now been successfully completed. Sightings records for 2005 - 2008 (up until July) were collected and plotted on a GIS map (a total of 264 sighting locations). Through the calculation of mean encounter rates of scats, footprints, livestock and people’s use of the habitat, baseline information was developed for the area, and as a result of regular monitoring of ten leopard paths and pugmark analysis, 11 individual leopards were identified. The sex of these individuals was determined, and scat analysis allowed for the identification of ten prey species, the majority of which (68.2%) were found to be domestic prey.

Livestock depredation surveys were conducted, (including the use of questionnaires), with GPS readings being recorded and plotted on the map for 2005 – 2008. The livestock insurance scheme saw membership grow from 33 to 163 livestock owners within the first couple of months, during which time 31 livestock owners were compensated. This scheme provides tangible benefits to the local communities, and supports leopard conservation by reducing the number of retaliatory killings. Financial constraints prevented the livestock insurance scheme from extending to other areas, though three more villages showed interest in launching the scheme.

In problem zones, a total of 15 training sessions were conducted on ‘Mitigating measures to reduce leopard attack chances on human and property’. Print and electronic media supported the training, and local forums were also used as tools to share information about leopard ecology, behavior and their importance to the ecosystem. Awareness activities had to be concentrated around the Ayubia National Park as a result of financial and time constraints.

Some additional successes included media meetings and published reports to help minimize the current conflict.

 

Project leaders:  Ashiq Ahmad KhanMuhammad Waseem
IUCN SSC Specialist Group: Cats
Project donors:
IUCN & Fondation Ensemble

Duration: June-August 2009
Project leader: Petros Ngwenya
IUCN/SSC Specialist Group:
Project donors: IUCN, Fondation Ensemble & Kate Sanderson Bequest Fund