By Adeel Saeed
PESHAWAR, May 10 (APP):In a bid to conserve the rare wildlife species of Pakistan, several attempts of illegal hunting were foiled in different parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa amid the coronavirus lockdown.
When people were busy fighting the pandemic of COVID-19, the poachers and wildlife hunters had turned activities for illegal hunting and trade of rare wild species in the province.
Actually, the scrupulous elements wanted to take advantage of the slowdown routine activities and closure of offices in wake of the lockdown. Nonetheless, to their surprise, even amid the lockdown, the officials concerned had foiled their attempts and protected the wildlife species.
Talking to APP, Divisional Wildlife Officer Peshawar, Muhammad Niaz said that “During the lockdown period, started from mid-March, we have made record seizures of wild species being smuggled to different parts of the province besides penalizing the illegal hunters”. He said the brave staff of Wildlife Department are vigilant to combat all such illegal activities and are expressing zero tolerance to poaching and hunting.
Sharing details of the seizures and arrests, Niaz said that the noted case was that of the seizure of 65 Demoisell cranes at Darban area in D.I.Khan. He said the seized birds were found tightened with ropes and face covered with cloth form an ambulance. The seizure was made on tip-off information about smuggling of birds from D.I.Khan to Baluchistan for smuggling abroad. The smuggler was identified and an FIR was registered against him under the Wildlife and Biodiversity Act 2015, he added.
Niaz said that the seized cranes were presently kept in enclosures in a wildlife park in D.I.Khan which would be released later. In a second seizure, action was taken against a hunter in D.I. Khan who after hunting of Rosy Starling uploaded the pictures on social media, he added.
Taking notice of illegal activity, the Wildlife Department with coordination and support of district administration, has launched search operation and arrested the person who was fined Rs. 70,000. The amount was collected and deposited in official kitty, he added.
In Shangla district, a young man after posting a picture of hunted rare bird on facebook,he found the officials of the wildlife department and local police knocking the door of his house at Alpuri Tehsil of Shangla. The hunter admitted his offense and paid a sum of Rs. 12000 fine along with a pledge of not repeating the crime again.
The Chitral Wildlife Division has collected record revenue of Rs. 1151250.00 during the coronavirus lockdown, reflecting activeness of the staff and vigilance round the clock.
In Malakand Division, Wildlife Department officials foiled a bid to smuggle horned tailed lizard (known as Saand in local language). Extraction of lizard oil for cure of bone of joint pain is a routine practice. The cruel merchants break the backbone of the reptile to make it inactive and unable to escape.
Wildlife trader, a resident of Lower Dir, was arrested red-handed while attempting to smuggle five lizards. He was fined a sum of Rs. 21000. An offender in Abbotabad Wildlife Division was also caught red-handed on April 23, 2020 by the staff of Haripur Wildlife who was trying to capture partridges during the breeding season.
Niaz said that the breeding season of birds starts from February to April and during that time hunting is strictly prohibited. Sharing further details, he said in Swat, the Wildlife Division, has arrested three poacher of rare Koklass phesants who were put behind the bar in Bahrian Police Station. The Swat Wildlife Division has realized an amount of Rs. 1097350.00 by fining poachers and hunters during COVID-19 crisis, he added.
The Divisional Wildlife Officer of Mansera District, Taimoor Ali Shah said, “In a recent development, the Wildlife Department has explored a valuable population of rare cheer pheasants in its natural habitat”. He said that cheer pheasants were very rare and indigenous specie which is on the verge of extinction in the country. However, due to captive breeding of the specie at Dhodial pheasantary, the Wildlife Department has succeeded in maintaining its population.
Taimoor said apart from breeding season, hunting without getting any license or permit from Wildlife Department is offence. The officials of Wildlife Department are fully prepared for the cause of protection and safety of wild species, he added.