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Officials say vet hospital needed in Chitral

PESHAWAR: Officials have felt the need for a proper veterinary hospital in Chitral after the death of an injured snow leopard that was shifted to Peshawar for treatment from the mountainous district.

Acting Director Peshawar Zoo, Ishtiaq Wazir, said that the snow leopard that got injured in Chitral was shifted to Peshawar Zoo. He said the vet started treatment of the snow leopard soon after its arrival at the zoo.

“The leopard was in a poor condition due to fracture in the backbone. Its lower part was paralysed due to the fracture and did not survive,” he added. Divisional Forest Officer, Altaf Ali Shah, said the snow leopard was injured in Arkari valley that is located near Garam Chashma.

“The area where it got injured has hanging cliffs. Our team scanned the entire area to find traces of whether it had been attacked by another animal but could not find evidence of it. It might have got injured while preying in the below-freezing temperature and might have slipped on the snow. It might have fallen from a height and got its backbone fractured,” he explained.

He said the leopard chances of survival were very low due to the fracture of spinal cord but we shifted it to Peshawar for treatment.“Accessing the wildlife areas in the mountainous district is a difficult task, but despite bad weather, our team reached there in the early morning to rescue the wild cat. “It was a six-hour journey from one side to complete the rescue operation,” he added.

He said the snow leopard population had decreased in Chitral. People would sight snow leopard from roadside in Chitral Gol but now they are not seen there.The official said that a single snow leopard lives in around 250 square kilometre area. “At most Chitral would have eight snow leopards now,” he added.

However, he said the decrease in the population of snow leopard in lower parts of Chitral could be attributed to two factors. First, the population of its prey like ibex and markhor had increased due to protection and they would not feel the need to descend on lower areas. Second, climate change might have stopped them from leaving the cold mountain tops as the weather was warming in the lower areas, he added.

He said snow leopard chances of survival less low but earlier a wolf got injured and was shifted to Peshawar.The official said that a proper well equipped veterinary hospital in Chitral was needed.

He said that his department had taken up the issue with the stakeholders and hoped that a state-of-the-art hospital would soon be established there.However, a former DFO said that he did not see any development in the near future, arguing the government could not provide proper health facilities to humans in Chitral and how would it care about wildlife.

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