Rare leopard captured in northern Iraq

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Dohuk (Iraq) (AFP) – An endangered leopard captured in mountainous northern Iraq had one hind leg amputated Friday following a trap injury, an AFP photographer said.

The Persian leopard, captured the day before in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan near the border with Turkey, had injured two people, said Colonel Jamal Saado, chief of the environmental protection police in Dohuk province .

Residents of a village near the town of Zakho lost around 20 sheep before realizing a leopard was attacking their flocks, he said.

The big cat suffered injuries in the hind leg when trapped by a shepherd, but managed to escape before the villagers helped the police find him.

Saado said the leopard was anesthetized before being captured.

“We had two or three similar cases in the province of Arbil” several years ago, he said, adding that an animal of the same subspecies had already been found dead near a village. from the province of Dohuk.

Persian leopards are a panther subspecies native to Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and the Caucasus.

They are extremely rare and have been classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is thought that there are less than 1000 in the wild, and 200 more in captivity.

Veterinarian Soleiman Tamr, who performed the amputation at the Dohuk Zoo on Friday, said the animal weighed around 90 to 100 kilograms (200 to 220 pounds).

“We will be watching him for a long time,” said the vet, who also runs an animal welfare society in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“If it can’t be put back into the wild, it will live in the zoo,” he said.


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