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Rare Persian Leopard captured in Iraq's Kurdistan region

A Persian Leopard or Caucasian leopard sits in its pen on May 23, 2019, in the "Parc des Felins" zoological park, in Lumigny-Nesle-Ormeaux, east of Paris. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)
A Persian Leopard or Caucasian leopard sits in its pen on May 23, 2019, in the "Parc des Felins" zoological park, in Lumigny-Nesle-Ormeaux, east of Paris. (Photo by Thomas [THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images]

An endangered leopard has been captured in Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region after it was caught in a shepherd's trap. The endangered Persian Leopard needed to have its hind leg amputated on Friday due to the injuries sustained caused by the trap, an AFP photographer said.

The big cat is said to have managed to escape the trap before villagers near the town of Zakho close to the border with Turkey helped police track it down.

According to Colonel Jamal Saado, the head of the environmental protection police in Dohuk province, the leopard injured two people and said that the local residents have lost around 20 sheep, attributing it to the leopard's attack on their flocks.

Saado said that the leopard was given anesethic before it was captured. "We had two or three similar cases in Arbil province" several years ago, he said, adding that an animal of the same subspecies had previously been found dead near a village in Dohuk province.

The veterinarian who carried out the amputation at Dohuk zoo, Soleiman Tamr said "We will monitor it for a long time". Tamr who also heads an animal protection society in Iraqi Kurdistan explained that "If it can't be returned to the wild, it will live at the zoo".

The Persian Leopard, also known as the Caucasian Leopard is the largest of the leopard subspecies and is native to Iran, Turkey, parts of Central Asia and the Caucasus and is the region's apex predator. With a population of less than 1000, it was listed as "Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016.

In Iraq, the main threats to Persian Leopards are poaching prey depletion and loss of habitat. The country is also littered by over 20 million landmines planted along the Iranian border during the Iran-Iraq War and millions of unexploded cluster bombs from the Gulf War and 2003 US-led invasion. While at least 2 leopards have been killed by mines, they also can discourage poachers and loggers venturing into the animal's mountainous habitat.

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