Rare vultures die after eating poisoned stray dogs

Published March 31, 2014
— Photo by AFP
— Photo by AFP

CHITRAL: About seven rare bearded vultures, two Tibetan wolves and several foxes have perished after consuming the carcasses of stray dogs poisoned to death by the workers of municipal committee, Booni, and disposed of at the desert of Kaghlusht in upper Chitral.

Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, the field biologist of WWF in Chitral, Shafiqullah Khan, said that two Tibetan wolves, a number of foxes and tiny birds and wild animals had perished instantly near the carcasses of dogs.

He said that the bearded vulture was a threatened species having a very sparse population in Chitral which lived in the crags of high mountains and its perishing was a great ecological loss that could lead to disturbing the whole chain of bionetwork.

He said that the bird had a comfortable population density in Chitral in the past, but the use of medicines for killing animals had been the cause of its decay. He said that the bird fed on bone marrows of dead animals and had been found highly susceptible to drugs.

He said that one vulture was found dead on the spot near the carcasses and at least six others were believed to be attracted to the carcasses and got infected and perished.

Dr Inayatullah Faizi, former project manager of IUCN in Chitral, said that bearded vulture locally called ‘Shonthru’ was one of the birds which had found description in the folk tales and even songs of Chitral. The bird has been regarded as friend of men since the olden days for its habit of picking remains of dead animals and cleaning the environment.

When contacted, assistant commissioner, Mastuj, Minhasuddin claimed that they had disposed of the poisoned dogs in a pit and buried in December last. He said that as decomposition process did not take place in winter the bodies remained fresh and were now uncovered by wolves.

PNEUMONIA UNDER CONTROL: District health officer, Chitral, Dr Israrullah said on Sunday that the pneumonia outbreak in Khot valley of upper Chitral had been controlled and no death of any child was reported during the last two weeks.

Talking to mediapersons, he said that following reports of deaths from pneumonia he had visited the affected area to start medical relief activities with the aid of different organisations.

He said that a few weeks ago 12 children had died of pneumonia because the parents did not bring their ailing children to the hospital as there was still three feet snow cover in the valley. The DHO claimed that over 600 children had been provided free medicines by the health department and precautionary measures were taken in the adjacent Rech and Yakhdiz valleys.

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