Monday, 21 September 2015

In north-west Pakistan, big cats are more feared than global terrorists

Osama bin Laden hid out here for months, if not years. But in the hills surrounding Abbottabad in north-western Pakistan, residents say they face a far scarier menace than terrorists.

With descriptive stories that bring to mind mythological tales of man against beast, Abbottabad residents claim to be locked in a terrifying battle against Pakistan’s endangered population of leopards. The big cats – referred to as common leopards to distinguish them from their smaller cousins, snow leopards – lurk in the Himalayan foothills.

At dusk, common leopards slink from the mountains into the villages that have been steadily encroaching deeper into Pakistan’s forests. Then, residents say, they pounce – killing at least four people and injuring several others over the past four years.

“The leopard just sucked the blood out of her, and then she was dead,” said Zakir Abbasi, 36, recounting a leopard attack in January that killed his seven-year-old niece, Saba Noor.

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