ISLAMABAD: Community conservancy efforts have led to a phenomenal increase in the population of wildlife in Chitral and also brought dividends to the local people.
But in many villages at the foot of the conservancy areas, the rising population of wildlife, especially Kashmiri markhors, has put the lives of the residents at risk. People in many villagers have also complained about wild animals straying into the populated areas.
In a latest incident, a mother of four was killed after falling stones dislodged by herds of markhors from the mountain falling in the Tooshi conservancy area hit her in the head.
Amir Ali, a resident of Boryough village of the Garam Chashma valley, told Dawn on phone from Chitral that his 50-year-old sister was going to meet a relative in the village when the falling stones dislodged by hundreds of markhors hit her.
He said despite repeated requests to the officials concerned, no steps had been taken to protect the village from the stones fallen by the wild animals. He said the lives of the dwellers of the village of 25 houses had become vulnerable to the falling stones and boulders. Last year, three women were also hit and seriously injured after being hit by falling stones caused by markhors in separate incidents, he added.
Mr Ali said on the request of the residents the district forest officer (DFO) wildlife had promised to install a wall of barbed wires to protect the village from the falling stones. However, so far work on the project has not been started.
When contacted, DFO (wildlife) Imtiaz Husaain confirmed the incident and said he was sending officials from his department to the village to pay compensation to the family and discuss measures for the protection of the village. He said work on installing the barbed protection wall would also be started soon as such incidents spoiled the image of the department. He said sufficient funds were available with the department as well as the community. In reply to a question, the DFO said due to the conservancy efforts in coordination with the local communities the population of the Kashmiri Markhors had increased to about 1,300 in the Tooshi conservancy area alone.
Published in Dawn, September 22nd , 2014