It was a great day for me today, as I got a rare chance of seeing a leopard live in the wilderness. While wandering different trails around Islamabad and North of Pakistan, I had seen some common wildlife presence from distance and also observed pug marks of some of the species but seeing one so near was certainly a lifetime experience. It was an hour before the sunset and the place was around 5-6 km North of Faisal Mosque (half way from Tilhar village). This part of Margalla hills offers a very pure natural environment as there is no human settlement nearby and so not many intruders wander here.
It was two of us me and Usman Zafar. We started our hike from behind the Kuwait hostel of International Islamic University and joined Trail 4. We continued on Trail 4 for about an hour where a smaller trail branches off towards right. While we always continue on the path going straight that goes to Tilhar/Monal, this time we were in a mood of exploring a new way for returning back. I always wondered where this path ultimately leads to as it apparently turns down towards right so we decided to follow it. On this trail, after a walk for about 10 minutes, there was a curve when I felt like there was some movement ahead of me. I took a few steps forward and phew, it appeared and it was nothing else but a leopard. It was not more than a few meters away from us but we never got an eye contact and it immediately ran away in the opposite direction with its known running style. We only managed to see it for a few seconds as it fast disappeared into the bushes. To me it looked like an adult one. It was not very tall and would have a height of something around 2.5 – 3 feet.
There have been some leopard sightings on Margalla hills in the past too. Just a couple of months ago, a partially paralyzed male leopard was sighted and later caught near the Kilinjhar village. It is good to see this beautiful cat surviving in Margalla hills so close to our world.