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Hogs going wild in Islamabad

Published Feb 25, 2012 07:02am


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Wild boars are found all over Pakistan, and are one of its major agricultural pests, which  can weigh up to 180 to 220 pounds (80 kilograms to 100 kilograms) and have razor sharp teeth. Adult males come armed with upward curving tusks.— AP (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: With a police officer wounded and the presidential palace breached, the Pakistani capital has launched a fresh offensive against a uniquely feared enemy in the Muslim country, the city's ever expanding population of wild boar.

Each night, packs of the hairy beasts emerge from Islamabad's river beds, parks and scrubland to rifle through the overflowing rubbish bins of its mostly wealthy residents and growing number of restaurants.

City authorities are laying poison and have announced free hunting permits to cull the wild pigs' numbers. But to make sure residents don't get caught in the crossfire, they only allow shotguns. There have been few takers. Hunters are wary of getting arrested by the police, or even worse, getting mistaken for a terrorist.

The animals can weigh up to 180 to 220 pounds (80 kilograms to 100 kilograms) and have razor sharp teeth. Adult males come armed with upward curving tusks. While they scurry off at the site of humans, they charge when cornered, alarmed or wounded and are a major cause of traffic accidents in the city.

The latest chapter of man versus hog played out in a city center police station last week.

''Someone shouted 'watch your back' but before I could look round the animal had hit me,'' said Sajjad Hussain, who was on duty when the animal slipped in past the high, razor wire-topped blast walls after guards opened the gates to let in a car.

Hussain had a gash in his stomach that required eight stitches and is on medical leave.

The swine was even more unlucky. In his rush to escape, he bounded into a large pit where police barracks are being constructed. Trapped by high walls, he was an easy target for officers out to avenge their wounded colleague. Not quite fish in a barrel, but close.

''The pig was like a terrorist. We shot him down,'' said station chief Fayaz Tanooli. ''I have told the guards if another pig gets in then they will be dismissed.''

The hogs have also encroached upon the lavish, not to mention tightly guarded, houses of the president and prime minister.

A team has been dispatched to lay poison mixed with molasses or maize, said Malik Aulya Khan, the city's environmental chief.

''We are making special efforts. We have killed many with poison,'' he said. ''Somehow they enter under the fences.''

Wild boars are found all over Pakistan, and are one of its major agricultural pests, gobbling their way though millions of dollars of wheat and sugarcane crops. In Punjab province in the 1980s, the government initiated a bounty system whereby villagers were paid for each tail they delivered, but it was discontinued for lack of funds.

Islamabad was built from scratch in 1951 on scrubland that runs up against the Margalla Hills, meaning wild boars have always lived in or close to the city. But their numbers have grown along with the city and its human inhabitants, now around 800,000 from just 100,000 originally.

The meat of wild boar is prized in many countries, but has no value in Pakistan because its consumption is forbidden under Islam. The country's often persecuted and tiny Christian and Hindu populations don't keep pigs or eat wild boar either. That has helped ensure the animals thrive.

The animal's abundance has made the country a prime spot for boar hunting, said Qaiser Khan, who leads hunting parties to Pakistan, including teams of foreigners who like to shoot hogs. He said that teams must sign a contract stipulating they will not cook the meat or ask staff to so.

He said hunting in Islamabad was unlikely to get many takers because it was not ''worth the hassle'' of coordinating with police and city authorities. Moreover, shooting hogs with a shotgun was dangerous because the hunter had to be up close, and the weapon risked wounding, but not killing, the animal, he said.

Professor Rashid Ahmad Khan trapped and killed more than 1,700 pigs during three years of research into the problem in the 1980s.

He said that poisoning and hunting were both unsuitable methods of controlling the population, and instead advocates removing their habitat. Cutting down brush in which they hide during the day, fencing off the many streams that crisscross the city and better management of the trash that spills out of rubbish bins and around the back of restaurants in the city will help reduce their numbers.

''If we are not doing this, it will be impossible to weed out the animals,'' he said. ''They are flourishing.''

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Comments (30) Closed

shafaq shaheen Feb 25, 2012 01:29pm
You did not mention the damage the 'Hogs' are doing in the National Assembly. I hear that they have their snout in the national budget. I am told this is the reason for Pakistan's debt crisis. I would appreciate it if you could update your article and let us know what the 'hogs' are upto (politically speaking).
Shahid Feb 25, 2012 02:19pm
Of course their numbers have grown in Islamabad. Time is coming to get rid of them.
Dallasqboy Feb 25, 2012 06:05pm
Oh my God....I thought we have only very few in Islamabad.
Mawali Feb 25, 2012 06:59pm
swines amongst...
Muhib Feb 25, 2012 07:39pm
My goodness!! Look at the comments and see how the nation hates her leader and sadly vice versa too as their actions show.
Atis Feb 25, 2012 07:49pm
Initiating eating hog meat should be the best option.
Faras Ali Khan Feb 25, 2012 08:21pm
I love this article.
Sudhir Reddy Feb 25, 2012 08:22pm
Why not catch these hogs and export it to China where it is considered a delicacy
abdul sheikh Feb 25, 2012 10:15pm
It hurts my religious feeling to see images and sketches of wild boar.
erfan Feb 26, 2012 02:50am
Yes you are very right and totally agrees with the statement if it can be exported so could bring at least some revenue rather than shooting for nothing
salman Feb 26, 2012 05:36am
Nice one!
Mustafa Razavi Feb 26, 2012 07:06am
I second that notion. In fact there are millions of Pakistanis who do eat pigs. I have always found eager takers for any I have hunted.
conflicted Feb 26, 2012 09:07am
What kind of shenanigans is the army up to. First it sets up the Difaa-e-Pakistan Council and now this. For those finding the remark obscure, please read George Orwell's "Animal Farm."
M Yusuf Feb 26, 2012 11:14am
I go regularly to F-9 park in the evening for jogging. I ve witnessed wild boars roaming in the park late in the evening. At least CDA should make an effort to rid the park of these wild beasts otherwise we have an accident in the making.
Ahmed Ali Feb 26, 2012 11:23am
"Every problem is an opportunity". Build a crocodile farm or any other animal farm which feeds on hog meat. Instead of selling hogs, we can easily sell crocodile / aligators etc. This way hogs habitat will be in control and government wont need to pay from their own pockets for killing the boar.
Humanist Feb 26, 2012 04:09pm
I don't understand where we are going with such mentality. We hate an animal which can do no harm to us! We have become such senseless society that we don't want unharmful animal.
Imran Feb 26, 2012 04:24pm
Terrorist pig....! Love the expression.
Shamir Fernandez Feb 26, 2012 04:44pm
I am from Australia. Will I be able to get a licence to start a plant to freeze the hog meat for export. As the wild hogs are almost free in Pakistan, why waste this great commodity. Maybe I can employ some Christians or Hindus to work in my plant. This would be a good option to earn some decent money by exporting to some Asian countries where the hog meat has such high value.
syed Feb 26, 2012 04:45pm
... look away man .. it will get your feelings on track !!!
Dr Patel Feb 26, 2012 05:16pm
Yes! And the following line: The hogs have also encroached upon the lavish, not to mention tightly guarded, houses of the president and prime minister.
Agha Ata Feb 26, 2012 08:20pm
Does the Department of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Pakistan include treatment to wild boars?
Zain Feb 26, 2012 11:26pm
Give an opportunity to a foreign investor to open a slaughter house in Pakistan and export all of them out, this will bring millions of dollars of revenue which can be used for our poor nation. We all believe God created everything, it is forbidden to eat it but is it forbidden to feed it to the people who like it.
Dr. Ashraf Khan Feb 27, 2012 12:01am
I am native Islamabadi. I never heard we have such a big problem in past. I like idea of exporting meat to China and Australia. Pricenton, NJ
TAHIRA Feb 27, 2012 12:13am
I dont like the suggestion of destroying habitat as it is shared by many other vulnerable animals. Its is surprising that a professor is saying so.
Moen Das Feb 27, 2012 06:11am
Destruction of crops and farmland is no harm?
Farhan Feb 27, 2012 09:38am
Brilliant idea - bring in crocodiles to get rid of the boars.
Ahmar Qureshi Feb 27, 2012 12:33pm
Well this is the 2nd time Dawn has posted this issue/article on news portal, previous one & this one is no doubt well explained about the imminent threat! Again it makes me LM..O! :-D & some comments are so Hillarious!! hahaha! Apart from Fun Factor, this is for sure a problem that is should be resolved by CDA!
ans Feb 27, 2012 01:07pm
Liquor Factories are allowed in Pakistan. Why not Hogs meat plant? Export now!
Afina Elma Feb 29, 2012 12:25pm
nice article but this not happen only in Islamabad... :O
Pigloo Aug 16, 2012 08:07am
There were talks with the Czechs about a decade ago to export hog meat. Rightly, however, the local grade of hog was deemed unsafe for consumption, let alone export, due to it being a temperate region animal and not the northerly species Europeans eat. The meat would fester rather quickly due to its resident heat, indicating a higher chance of disease.