Wildlife Department orders search for leopard cats
* One leopard cat dead after pair entered Hanjarwal
By Noshad Ali
LAHORE: Wildlife Department Director General Imtiaz Tajwar has directed all district field officers to search for animals that have migrated to their areas – especially those who belong to the cat family and have migrated from the Northern Areas to Punjab because of the cold weather – after a pair of leopard cats entered Hanjarwal.
Locals of the area took the cats for leopards and brought in hunting dogs to chase them down. As a result, ten dogs were injured and the male leopard cat died, while the other escaped.
Wildlife officials were now searching for the escaped cat, said the Hanjarwal Wildlife Department Deputy Director Shakoor Malik. He said the leopard cats that entered Hanjarwal were not wild, and such cats only attacked human beings when they were afraid.
He said the Wildlife Department was trying its best to catch the escaped female cat.
The Wildlife Department director general had also formed a task force of five officials, who are experts in tracking such animals, to bring in the cat without hurting it, he added.
About the dead cat, he said the locals had made a mistake by attacking the pair instead of telling the Wildlife Department. He denied that the female cat had been injured.
Wildlife Breeding Farm Assistant Director Anwar said the arrival of leopard cats in any district of Punjab was not impossible because such cats from the Northern Areas could travel 50 to 60 kilometres a day.
“In cold whether, these cats come down from the hilly areas,” he said, adding that they first entered Murree and then Jhelum before reaching the plains of Punjab, where the whether is not that cold. He said that leopard cats did not usually move in groups, but considering the weather conditions, it was possible for more of these cats to have entered Punjab.
He said that compared to an average leopard, leopard cats were slightly smaller in size, and were also called baby leopards.
“Breeding this member of the cat family can be a useful addition to the wildlife of our area,” he said.