CHITRAL: The wildlife department has extended the duck hunting period around the Chitral River for three weeks due to intermittent rains, giving the hunters an opportunity to make up for the dull season since its start in December due to a prolonged dry spell.
Thanks to continuous rains, the influx of migratory ducks continues, with thousands of artificial lakes raised along the river stretching over 400 kilometres from Baroghil to Arandu in the south.
The Baroghil Pass areas of Chitral in the north are the starting points of the Indus waterway, the route through which the migratory Siberian birds fly to the plains of Pakistan with the advent of winter season.
The hunters term the continuing rainy season as a big boon as the dry weather with the start of spring stopped the migration of the birds from Siberia towards the Indus plains passing through Chitral.
Riaz Diwanbegi, an amateur hunter, said the season used to come to an end by the first week of March when the rains stopped and the lonely ducks were sighted seldom, but this year their arrival in large flocks continued due to rains.
He said the temporary ponds raised by the hunters along the river started to be abandoned by beginning of the month. Water level in the river has yet to start rising due to the persistent cold weather, he added.
“The shooting season was quite dull for the hunters due to the persistent dry spell in the months of January and February but it changed for the best since beginning of the current month, which is quite unexpected,” he said.
Riaz Diwanbegi said this year a fabulous species of ducks came to Chitral, some of which were globally known like Siberian crane, pintail, bar-headed geese, teals and mallards.
As per data available with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, about 1.2 million migratory birds use the Indus flyway passing through Chitral with a large number descend upon the valley during the course of their long flight.
The wildlife department regulates the duck hunting by issuing permits at payment of a specified fee.
The duck shooting had been the pastime of the rulers and notables of the former princely state of Chitral.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2021