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.