After years of relentless conservation work from both national and International wildlife conservation agencies in Pakistan, the Bronx Zoo in New York reported the birth of first Pakistani Snow Leopard in their facility.
Although born in captivity, the cub is the first Pakistani Snow Leopard cub which has been bred from a captured snow leopard from Gilgit. The male leopard was captured some 35 kms northwest of Gilgit by a shepherd in the year 2005.
“Appropriately” named as “Leo”, the leopard was later handed over to the Bronx Zoo for conservation and breeding proposes. The zoo authorities paired the male leopard with “Maya”, a female Snow Leopard captured earlier.
It is often a widely accepted norm that the endangered animals when transported to other countries retain their given names which normally depict their country of origin. Notwithstanding the fact that the birth of the cub is a breath of fresh air for the conservationists all over the world, it is still a matter of concern for many, whether Pakistani High Commission in Washington pursues the matter of naming the cub relevant to its paternal origins.
Dr. Asad M. Khan, Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires in Washington while speaking over the news said, “It’s heartening to learn that Leo had his own cub, a male, this summer. Leo has served as a symbol of deep friendship and abiding good will between our two countries.”
Meanwhile Nadeem Hotiana, the press attache at the Pakistani embassy in Washington explained the reasons why Leo was shifted to the Bronx Zoo in New York as Pakistan did not have the appropriate breeding facility in place.
Listed as the critically endangered animal on the IUCN, Snow Leopard is one of the most elusive and rare carnivores in the world. Strictly inhabiting the Himalayan mountain ranges and the far stretches of the Central Asian Highlands, the Snow Leopard population took a steep plunge because of rampant hunting by Poachers for traditional Chinese medicine. Most of the locals also hunted down the animal in order to safeguard their cattle from stealth attacks by the leopard. An estimated 3,500 to 7,000 remain in the wild, and their population continues to decline.
Pakistani government with the support of the international funding agencies, have undertaken several projects for the conservation of the animals in the far north. US High Commission in Pakistan also takes keen interest in the conservation of wildlife in the country.
It will be interesting to see whether the cub is named as per the norms of his homeland or will it be given yet another foreign name turning a blind eye to the land of its origin.
Wild boars are found all over Pakistan, and are one of its major agricultural pests, gobbling their way through millions of dollars of wheat and sugarcane crops. In Punjab province in the 1980s, the government initiated a bounty system whereby villagers were paid for each tail they delivered, but it was discontinued for lack of funds.
The Indian Wild boar prefers area with thick vegetation. They are found in reed beds as well as scrub and forest areas and are often found living in the vicinity of larger cities of Pakistan. In Pakistan the wild boar is common in the Indus riverian forest throughout the provinces of Punjab and Sind. Increased sugar plantation has increased the wild boar population in some areas of Punjab so high that they are now considered a pest.
Numbers in Sind have declined, but it is not endangered and is still found in good numbers. Wild boars are plentiful in the forest plantations of Changa Manga and Piranwala.
They are common in Margalla Hills and are regularly seen on the streets of Islamabad, despite government efforts to control their population. Each night, packs of the hairy beasts emerge from Islamabad's river beds, parks and scrubland to riffle through the overflowing rubbish bins of its mostly wealthy residents and growing number of restaurants.
City authorities are laying poison and have announced free hunting permits to cull the wild pigs' numbers. But to make sure residents don't get caught in the crossfire, they only allow shotguns. There have been few takers. Hunters are wary of getting arrested by the police, or even worse, getting mistaken for a terrorist.
Description: Wild boars are not found in the higher hill ranges in the north of the country. They are rare in Kohat and Peshawar. Despite government efforts to reduce Wild boar populations, by using pesticides and hunting there has been no significant effect on the population of wild boars in Pakistan, and they are increasing in many areas of Punjab.
The brownish coat is coarse and bristly, usually turning grayish with age. The face, cheeks, and throat are slightly grizzled with whitish hairs. The back is rounded and the legs are relatively long, especially in northern subspecies. Young are born with a pattern of light stripes along their torso, known as livery. These fade between the second and sixth month, reaching adult coloration at one year of age. The wart less head is long and pointed. The upper canines form tusks which curve out and upwards. The lower canines are like razors, self-sharpening by rubbing against the upper canines. The tail is long with a simple tuft.
Social Behavior: Activity is concentrated from dusk to dawn, with a primary resting period at night and a "siesta" during the early afternoon. Wild boars rest in tight groups with bodily contact. The resting place, used several times before being abandoned, is made of numerous troughs lined with leaves and branches. Wild boar are excellent swimmers, and have been documented swimming between offshore islands up to 7 km / 4 miles apart. Wallowing is a favorite activity, taking place several times during each summer afternoons in muddy waterholes. In winter, this frequency drops to about once per week. After wallowing, the wild boar rubs against trees and bushes, an activity that acts as a territorial marker. Ten different vocalizations have been distinguished, and each mother can recognize her own offspring be voice. Maternal families averaging 20, but with a maximum of 100 animals, adult males solitary. Wild boars are very short tempered and can sometimes be very dangerous.
Diet: Seeds, roots, tubers, fruit, nuts, carrion, eggs, insects. In short - ANYTHING.