Tragic Accident in Pakistan

With deep sorrow, the Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan have learned of a road accident that occurred on the morning of August 01, 2017 near Askole in Shigar Valley, Central Karakoram National Park (CKNP), Pakistan.

A group of seven people, who were on their way back from a wildlife survey organized by students from Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), were involved in the accident. Their car appears to have fallen into the river when the washed-out road suddenly gave way. The driver had no chance to react.

As a result of this accident, five people were initially missing, and sadly have to be presumed dead. Two passengers, one of whom is a staff member of the Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan, managed to free themselves from the vehicle with minor injuries. They were taken to a nearby town, Skardu, for treatment.

During a search operation to find the missing passengers, the body of Zubair Shah, a Master’s student at QAU, was recovered two weeks after the accident. The four persons still missing are Muhammad Sharif (CKNP staff), Ali Khan (Driver), and two local people.

Zubair Shah, in a photo taken by a fellow student.

Zubair Shah was a passionate soul, a hardworking researcher and a brilliant student. From his childhood, Zubair had always been a dedicated student, an avid thinker and a person passionate about succeeding in life. He always found himself fascinated with birds, animals, their diversity and their unspoken language. He opted to pursue higher studies instead of getting married; convincing his father to allow him to use money the family had saved for his wedding so that he could obtain a degree in wildlife ecology. He got his Master’s degree in Zoology from University of Malakand, and secured admission in the M.Phil program in Wildlife Ecology at QAU in 2016.

During his time at university, Zubair demonstrated keen interest in academics and field based research. He not only understood the latest investigation techniques in wildlife research, but also improved them through extensive literature review and critical thinking. His peers admired his dedication, sense of responsibility, vigilance and cautious attitude in obtaining field data. He was so thrilled to stay and work on his data in the field when all other students were tired and yearning to go back to their homes, a peer recalls. In his quest to better understand and ultimately protect Pakistan’s wildlife, Zubair took on the challenge of working in the extraordinary rugged terrain of Karakoram.

He devoted his life for a cause as noble as wildlife conservation and while doing so, became a lot larger than life. He will always live the depth of our hearts, smiling, working steadily towards his goals and ambitions.


  1. What a beautiful animal. I am so sorry for all the people killed in the August accident and my thoughts to their love ones.

  2. So sad that so brave people have died. I’ve been to Skardu and walked around the Indus valley there and know just how treacherous the landscape is and how far from “ordinary” life. Maybe others will now join conservation in Pakistan in the memory of these brave people so that this loss will lead to something positive.

  3. My heart goes out to the friends, family and colleagues of those who died in this tragic accident. I just read the bio of Zubair Shah, and I feel the loss of this young, so well educated and talented and passionate young man. He seems to have led a very good life, and just reading about him is inspiring. I believe the life he led and his death will inspire others and that it will not be in vain. May it move others to dedicate their lives to bettering our planet such as the conservation work he was involved in.

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