ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Wildlife Department has collected Rs550,000 from hunters for illegal hunting in the last 30 days, but not without facing retaliation from huntsmen.
Out of 51 fines issued over the last month, 43 cases were settled amicably but the rest of the hunting parties decided to register first information reports (FIRs) against the staff of the department. In some cases, huntsmen who chose not to pay penalties for illegal hunting have challenged the department in courts.
Nonetheless, a hunting party from Charsada had to cough up Rs122,000 for trying to bag partridges in the Rawalpindi district. While it is partridge season and a hunter can bag six birds against one gun, partridges can only be hunted on Sundays, until Feb 15, after which partridge hunting season closes till next winter.
“It’s a fairly reasonable as well as necessary arrangement to preserve the population of partridges. But huntsmen are getting agitated over these restrictions under law and often hunt on undesignated days, including the hunting party from Charsada,” Punjab Wildlife Department District Wildlife Officer Rizwana Aziz told Dawn.
Luckily, the staff from the wildlife department arrived on time before the huntsmen could shoot any partridges, the official said.
Similarly, the department fined another hunting party trying to shoot barking deer in Murree, Kotli Satian and Kahuta National Park.
“Our staff found the hunting party just in time. The hunters were fined Rs90,000. Law prohibits hunting of barking deer, whose population has been dwindling. However, conservation efforts have saved barking deer from completely disappearing,” Ms Aziz said.
According to a survey from 2016, researchers from the Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, registered 200 barking deer in the national park. Ms Aziz believes that such strict conservation efforts have led to an increase in the numbers of barking deer in all three areas.
“The fact that the national park is not properly demarcated makes our jobs somewhat harder. A request has been forwarded for proper demarcation of the protected areas to ensure conservation of various species of animals,” she added and later elaborated upon important awareness programmes regarding wildlife particularly the common leopard and pangolins.
“Conservation efforts have certainly helped to increase populations of pangolins in Kallar Syedan and Taxila. No case of poaching pangolins has been reported since 2017,” the official claimed.
Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2021