Rescue centre for Kashmir markhor in Chitral demanded

Published April 18, 2024
Community workers carry an injured Kashmir markhor to the veterinary hospital in Chitral Gol National Park. — Dawn
Community workers carry an injured Kashmir markhor to the veterinary hospital in Chitral Gol National Park. — Dawn

CHITRAL: Experts have called for the establishment of a rescue centre for here for markhors, snow leopards, and falcons.

“Chitral is home to different species of wildlife, especially Kashmir markhor, and therefore, a rescue centre for them should be set up to save the lives of the wild creatures injured in accidents and firing by poachers,” a conservationist working for a non-government organisation told Dawn.

He said the outbreak of diseases in pastures killed hundreds of wild animals in the past as there was no proper facility for their treatment.

The expert said the treatment of wild animals and birds was quite different from that of livestock, and therefore, it was beyond the capacity of doctors in the local veterinary hospital to handle it.

He said the treatment of injured or sick animals from Chitral in a specialised hospital in Peshawar wasn’t feasible as, first, it took more than 12 hours to shift them to the provincial capital, and second, the local temperature wasn’t appropriate for them, so they couldn’t adapt to it fast.

“The conservation model of the village conservation committee has worked well in Chitral. In this model, every member of the community acts as the guard of wild animals, so their numbers, especially those of markhors and snow leopards, have increased incredibly over the years,” he said.

The expert said the loss of one species could lead to the extinction of the other, as in the natural scheme of things, they had close interdependence.

He said the loss of a markhor meant a colossal loss of Rs50 million as the fee for trophy hunting was auctioned at that rate last year.

“Eighty per cent of the fee is transferred to the local community, which spends it on its collective development in a democratic way,” he said.

The conservationist said a few years ago, members of Denin VCC rescued a markhor by risking their lives as it got stranded on a steep hillock.

He added that the markhor was shifted to the local veterinary hospital for treatment but succumbed to injuries in a Peshawar hospital.

“The local community shifted an injured cub of snow leopard to the local veterinary facility from where it was taken to Peshawar, but it was too late to save the life of the wild cat due to excessive bleeding,” he said.

The expert said presently, the only specialised facility for markhor was present in the core zone of Chitral Gol National Park, where sick or injured animals were quarantined.

He said that facility could be converted into a wildlife rescue centre with staff members trained in the treatment of wild animals.

Meanwhile, emir of Jamaat-i-Islami in Lower Chitral district Maulana Jamshed Ahmad and general secretary Wajeehuddin, and Al-Khidmat Foundation president Abdul Haq have demanded an early yet fair assessment of the damages caused by the recent torrential rains and snowfall here.

They told a joint news conference here the other day that Chitral’s poor residents had lost homes, crops, and orchards to the natural disaster, and therefore, the government should provide them with relief goods and proper compensation for damages.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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