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Event Title: Senate’s Climate Change Committee Visits Islamabad Wildlife Management Board Visitor Information Center, trail 06 after the recent development of Leopards found in the area reserved as the Leopard Preserve Zone as a permanent habitat of the wildcat

Event Date: 2022-02-14

Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change Senator Seemee Ezdi on Monday appreciated the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) for protecting and conserving the thriving biodiversity and endangered wildlife species of Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP).

Ms. Rina Saeed, Chairperson IWMB welcomed the members of the Committee and gave a brief overview of the history of the IWMB and the structure of board. Moreover, a short documentary about the MHNP was also showcased.

The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change under the Chairpersonship of Senator Seemee Ezdi on Monday visited the IWMB Visitor information Center, Trail 06 Faisal Masjid to Jabbi & Talhar Ridge ((4km /7 km respectively) The panel covered more than 2 km area ( by foot) to see on ground progress of the conservation work. Rina Saeed, Chairperson IWMB, Ministry of Climate Change apprised the committee that 03 leopards (two small ones and one mature leopard,) captured through camera tracks have been left open in the vicinity covering approximately an area of 11 km from trail 06 connecting to trail 04. “ Shezadi, Shezada and Sultan, 3 Leopards were frequently seen on the main track and marked it their territory which has now been reserved as the Leopard Preservation Zone”. The Management Board Informed

Chairperson Seemee Ezdi lauded the efforts of the board on rescuing two rare leopard cats which were released in the Margalla Hills on Sunday. She also said it was the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect wildlife and they were thriving in the MHNP. "We are being told that there are Leopards at Trail-6. It's there habitat and we are intruding in their living space." "Such habitats are not found in any other mega city. It's encouraging to see endangered species thriving here and we must play our role in protecting the biodiversity of this region," she concluded.

The Committee was also informed that the Leopard Preservation Zone will be opened in the coming weeks onwards for tours through registration and booking. Government schools with children over 7-years of age will also be given free tours for educational purposes. Committee was also informed that the area occupied by Monal Restaurant would be converted into Visitors Information Center for children education and awareness on protection of the wildlife.

She appreciated that recently the IWMB released two Leopard cats at Trail-6 which was an encouraging effort to increase reducing wildlife species.

The Senate Panel walked approx. 2 km on the trail 06 Trail 06 Faisal Masjid to Jabbi & Talhar Ridge and physically examined the track and took briefing by Rina Saeed Khan Chairperson IWMB. Ms. Rina Saeed informed the committee that three Leopards were identified through data base distinguishing them individually through unique marks on the forehead called rosettes at trail 06 ranging to approximately 11 km. Ms Rina Saeed further informed the committee that 20 cameras have been installed in the area with High night vision and audio sensitivity to track leopards. Moreover it has been found that around 09 leopards are found in the area out of which a whole family is also identifiable through camera footage,she informed. The Senate panel was shown pugmarks and other traces of the presence of leopards in the area “Leopards are adapted to human- its time Humans should be adapted to leopards, stated Ms. Rina Saaed while giving briefing for the conservation and preservation of the Eco System and explaining its importance. “The Special zone is established to provide them a peaceful habitat where their population could grow.” She added.

The IWMB chair mentioned that the fire season will start during the month of April, whereas recently a deliberate fire was ignited at Trail-4 to damage the forest. She informed the committee that the department will hold meeting with the CDA to fine-tune a plan for fire protection, fire control and fire breakers. Ms Rina Saeed informed that the CDA plans to invest in the Margalla Hills which emphasis will be on fire prevention in the coming season. The plan will also serve purpose of employment for the local community. Replying to Senator Seeme Ezdi Ms informed that the zone is naturally regenerated however planation is done only in the degraded area on identification.

The committee was also informed that work has started on recruitment of 35 staff members taken place for patrolling and littering campaigns and additional hiring of 70 more staff members during the fire Season.

The IWMB presented handbooks to the participants. The visit included Senator Seemee Ezdi, Chairperson Committee along-with Senators Khalida Ateeb, Keshoo Bai,  Abida Muhammad Azeem and Faisal Javed. Rina Saaed, Chairperson Islamabad Wildlife Management Board and other members of the department were also present.