Jamshoro Natives Suspected Of Hunting Endangered Leopard To Face Trial

Police hunt for locals nominated by the Sindh Wildlife Department in an FIR as the magistrate sends the case to a sessions court

Jamshoro Natives Suspected Of Hunting Endangered Leopard To Face Trial

Five residents of a village in Jamshoro district of Sindh are set to face legal prosecution for allegedly hunting down a leopard in the mountainous range of Kanbo Mountain near the Kirthar National Park without just cause.

A few days ago, it emerged that a leopard had wandered into the Sunehra village on the edge of the Kanbo Mountain and the Kirthar National Park in Jamshoro, where locals killed it.

However, the five men suspected of being involved in the leopard's death maintained that they had been forced to kill the wild cat to save their lives and those of their livestock.

Officials at the Sindh Wildlife Department disputed this claim and proceeded legally. An official of the department appeared before the Judicial Magistrate of Jamshoro along with the carcass of the leopard.

The official told the court that the suspects' claim was false and fabricated as they had failed to produce any evidence, including any injured goat, that the leopard posed a threat to them or their livestock. 

Instead, they argued that the men had hunted the endangered animal.

Hence, the Sindh Wildlife Department said it intends to lodge an FIR against the five men at the Sindh Wildlife Protection Police Station in Kotri under the relevant provisions of the Sindh Wildlife Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management Act, 2020.

Meanwhile, the police submitted a report in the case. Subsequently, the relevant magistrate took notice of the matter and sent the case to the Jamshoro Sessions Court for a trial.

The magistrate further directed the concerned authorities to preserve the remains of the leopard in the museum of Kirthar National Park.

Following the order, the wildlife department shifted the leopard's carcass to a laboratory in Karachi to ascertain its origins.

Meanwhile, police have launched a hunt for the suspects, including Qadir Bux Sanhiro and Ghulam Hussain Sanhiro. Police said that the two fled after an FIR was lodged against them.

The Kirthar National Park has historically been home to leopards. Their population has all but disappeared due to illegal poaching and habitat degradation in recent decades.

The last sighting was recorded in the 1970s. Wildlife officials believe that the deluge in 2022 has revived their habitats.

Prosecution for harming endangered wildlife

Advocate Asifa Abdul Rasool, a practising lawyer, said that the law in the province had become quite strict regarding the preservation of endangered species, but it was quite unfortunate that neither the general public nor the concerned authorities were aware of it.

She noted that under the new laws, the punishment for killing a leopard was five years imprisonment and a fine of Rs1.2 million. However, she believed there is room for further development in laws that curb the illegal hunting of endangered animals. 

Rasool pointed to the case where a Sukkur fisherman was sentenced to serve five years in prison for killing a rare species of the blind Indus dolphin.

The author is a practicing lawyer and freelance journalist. His areas of interest are cultural diversity and socio-political issues of Sindh.