A leopard was stoned to death by a mob of angry and scared villagers in the Jhelum valley district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) after it reportedly injured three people while descending into their village.
In the last six months, 16 leopards have been killed by humans in Azad Kashmir, according to wildlife officials, who have condemned the ‘merciless’ killing and vowed to hold accountable those responsible for the animal’s death.
Recounting the incident, Bushra Bibi, one of the injured villagers told Dawn, “I was on my way to school along with my uncle and a female colleague when we spotted the leopard which looked weak and unwell. Initially we got scared, but then my uncle asked me to make a video for the department (of wildlife) so that they could get it treated.”
Video footage of the incident, which went viral on social media, shows the leopard slinking towards the village. A later photo shows the animal surrounded by villagers, a noose around its neck.
Apparently, the police and wildlife board were notified of the encroaching animal, but arrived at the scene too late, as villagers had already taken the matter into their own hands.
The local wildlife department has filed a complaint with the Hattian Bala police against two people chiefly responsible for the animal’s death, although they acknowledged that at least 200 villagers had joined in pelting stones at the leopard.
“Police came but it was too late! We will hardly any have common leopards left in Pakistan at this rate!” said Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) chairperson Rina S. Khan Satti in a Tweet.
Wildlife conservation experts have called for increased education, wildlife management and animal protection efforts to preserve Pakistan’s diminishing fauna.
Earlier this year, another leopard died in AJK after she was shot in the spine by six pellets form a 12-bore shot-gun.