ISLAMABAD: For Senator Sughra Imam, a walk in the city after sunset has become increasingly terrifying because of the ubiquitous wild boars.
“Over the years, the population of this wild beast has multiplied, but complaints in this regard could not move the Capital Development Authority (CDA),” she said while talking to Dawn.
“In a recent meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet, I also lodged a complaint with the CDA chairman,” the senator added.
Like a seasoned bureaucrat, the CDA chairman, Nadeem Hassan Asif, readily promised to initiate a drive in this regard, she added.
Even ordinary citizens who like to stroll at night after dinner say they come across the animal more often compared to previous years.
“My whole family has been walking up and down this street outside our house for almost twenty years, but this summer, we saw far more pigs than before,” said Tahir Hussain, a resident of F-6.
Similar views were expressed by other residents of the city as well.
Residents of the federal capital claim they see the wild animal almost everywhere at night because the population of this animal has grown significantly during the last few years after their culling and hunting was banned.
While spotting wild birds and porcupines is becoming increasing difficult in Islamabad as their numbers have dwindled, one can easily find a pack of brown or black wild boars in the city.
“It was not an issue a decade ago,” said an official of the CDA’s environment department, adding, “previously, many locals and even foreigners used to hunt them but due to security concerns, nobody is allowed to use guns in Islamabad anymore.”
Previously, many people hunted the animal, some as a sport and others for its meat.
However, after the ban, the district administration has stopped issuing hunting permits.
“It used to be trophy hunting earlier, but we do not allow any individual to hunt animals now due to security concerns,” said Amer Ahmed Ali, the deputy commissioner of Islamabad.
He said hunting involved guns and the administration could not allow firing in the residential areas.
“The most serious issue is that hunters could be mistaken as terrorists by the security personnel posted on the Margalla Hills, and terrorists could easily move in the region in the guise of hunters,” he added.
However, he maintained that permits to hunt and kill wild boars were being issued to institutions such as the CDA, but they seldom applied.
The CDA had initiated a programme to cull wild boars in 2006 when a feed of molasses and corn mixed with a special poison, ‘row men’, was placed at selected spots in the F-9 Park.
“Though it was a success and we were able to collect the carcasses of several boars, the poison was endangering other animals as well. Besides, the park is situated very close to populated areas,” said an official of the CDA environment wing.
Though no serious effort has been made to ascertain the exact number of wild boars in the capital, environmentalists estimate that the figures could be close to a million as the animal was spread all over the Margalla Hills National Park.
A key reason for the rapid growth of wild pigs is that the animal is not only omnivorous but also extremely well adapted to the local environment. Islamabad, with several lush green spots and a large number of streams flowing through the city, has made the breeding of these animals easier.
The animal can weigh up to 100kg and has sharp teeth.
In addition, the adult male hogs are also armed with small upward curving tusks that can seriously injure humans. Luckily, not many reports are received of boars attacking humans or domestic animals.
“This is also a major reason why many people are not alarmed by the growing number of wild boars,” said a CDA official who believed that apart from their growth, there was no major issue with the increasing number of wild boars.
“But if we want to contain them, the management of garbage has to be improved. The litter is always spilling out of the bins and routine checks at the undergrowth around streams could be beneficial in reducing the pigs’ number,” the CDA official added.