Minister: (Mushahidullah Khan’s help sought for retrieval of snow leopard from American zoo)

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mushahidullah Khan, has said that being a chairman of the global snow leopard committee he would play his part in retrieving Pakistan’s male snow leopard caged at the Bronx Zoo in New York.

The Gilgit-Baltistan’s Secretary for Forest, Sajad Haider, held recently a detailed meeting with the federal minister in his office and requested him to push US government for retrieval of the snow leopard at the earliest possible, said a news release issued here on Sunday from the ministry.

Mushahidullah Khan has told the GB forest secretary to write a formal letter in this regard addressed to the climate change ministry and then he would take up the matter with the US authorities concerned for returning the snow leopard named as “Leo”.

The GB forest secretary apprised the minister that the orphaned snow leopard was recovered from a shepherd at Naltar Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan province in 2005 and was temporarily shifted to Bronx Zoo New York under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the World Conservation Society and the Gilgit-Baltistan administration in 2006 for care and inclusion in their snow leopard breeding programme.

“The snow leopard was cub and handed over to the Bronx Zoo authorities, because Pakistan lacked facilities required for its proper nourishment,” the GB forest secretary told the minister.

He added that under the MoU it was agreed the cub would remain at the Bronx Zoo until an appropriate facility for captive snow leopards is constructed in Pakistan.

The snow leopard at Bronx Zoo is now being considered very important to mix with captive population of snow leopard with the fresh and wild gene as the Leo was able to breed with the captive females. Now the Leo is father of a cub.

Under MoU, the WCS also agreed to return the Leo to Pakistan possibly with some female after few years. The meeting was also attended by the Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Arif Ahmed Khan, Inspector General for Forest Syed Mahmood Nasir and Chief Conservator Wildlife of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Safdar Ali Shah.