The confiscated chukors, monkey and black bear.
The confiscated chukors, monkey and black bear.

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Wildlife Department has raided and confiscated seven monkeys and 11 chukors from Rawalpindi that were captured by poachers, in violation of wildlife protection laws.

The monkeys were released into their natural habitat in the hills of Murree on Tuesday, while the chukors were set free in the Margalla Hills National Park.

The Punjab Wildlife Department was tipped off by the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), following which the department – led by District Officer Rizwana Aziz – raided an area on College Road where the animals were being sold.

A charge-sheet was registered and two people, allegedly poachers who had captured the animals, have been sent to prison for 14 days, IWMB Field Officer Zaheer Khan said.

In a separate raid, the IWMB confiscated a rare sparrow falcon being sold in the weekly market.

Mr Khan told Dawn capturing and trading sparrow falcons is prohibited, and the falcon will be released into its natural habitat in the Margalla Hills.

The IWMB is also completing paperwork to release an endangered black bear confiscated two days ago.

Chairman Dr Anisur Rehman told Dawn there is pressure on the board to release the bear back to its owner.

He added: “Black bears are an endangered species. The only way to capture a bear cub is when it is a few weeks old by shooting its mother. There is no other way to do it. Once the paperwork from the court is complete, the six month old bear will be sent to the only bear sanctuary in Balkasar, where it will spend the remainder of its life.”

Otherwise healthy, the male cub’s teeth have been pulled out, its nails clipped and its nose pierced with a steel ring. These acts are all prohibited and punishable under the law.

“It is now unable to hunt and eat on its own and will not survive if released into the wild. It is cruel what they have done to the bear. It breaks our hearts that such a magnificent beast will spend the rest of its years in captivity, but at least the sanctuary is a wide open space, better than the three by six feet cage it is being kept in now,” Dr Rehman said.

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2019