ISLAMABAD-Presence of leopards in the Margalla Hills National Park is healthy for ecological system and not a serious risk to human well being, Islamabad Wildlife Management Board Assistant Director Sakhawat Ali said on Sunday. He said that a research conducted by the Quaid-e-Azam University revealed these findings. The research was conducted in the aftermath of frequent leopard attacks at domestic animals in Shahdara Valley.

He said the research was made under the supervision of Dr Ali Nawaz who tried to ascertain the facts behind the leopards’ attacks and workout safety guidelines for the local communities inhabiting in the national park.

“The park is the last repository for the indigenous flora and fauna of the Himalayan foothills and the last refuge for the birds and animals that inhibit its forests. But, the periphery of the park is also home to over 25 villages and over a hundred thousand domestic animals, so the increasing population pressures, cutting of trees for fuel wood, hunting of wild goats and jungle fowl and grazing of domestic animals may lead to human animal conflicts,” revealed the facts of the research.

The Margalla Hills National Park, he said, was sprawling over 125 km of near pristine nature and a perfect backdrop to the federal capital.

“The national park provides relief to the citizens from the ever increasing stresses of city life by providing access to nature trails, recreation and eating places and for most just a perfect serene backdrop to the view outside their homes and offices,” Sakhawat said. To a question, he said that in the MHNP the pride of the ecosystem and top of the food chain were the two families of leopards, resident in the Shahalla ditta-Kaintla-Taxila and Ratta hotar-Shahdara valleys. Till last year these leopards were thought to be winter migrants from the Galiyat, but recent studies confirmed that these were now residents in the park, he underscored.