CHITRAL, March 4: The current hunting season of Siberian ducks proved to be a wild-goose chase for the hunters, as negligible number of migratory birds came to Chitral this season compared to past.
Talking to this correspondent here, several hunters said that they had not seen such a dull hunting season before, as in most of the outings they did not even shoot a single shot.
The hunting season of ducks, quite popular among the locals, starts in February and continue for two months. A number of people have developed a craze for the hunting and spend big money on making artificial ponds and lakes along the river.
Akhtar Ali of Torkhow valley said that on average he used to hunt two ducks in the previous seasons, but this year he like most of other hunters in the area was yet to hunt a bird though he had raised an artificial lake and had also reared a pair of hounds.
He said that the valley was the starting point of Indus flyway of migratory birds and known for abundance of the migratory ducks due to its proximity to the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan.
Mr Ali said that the poaching of ducks in the past remained unchecked and the hunters from other parts of the district also used to throng the area in the season. He said that this could be the reason for dull hunting season.
Another hunter from Mastuj, Sher Dulla Khan said that waiting from dawn to dusk in the kiosk along his lake had been fruitless for him this season so far.
“I have not heard the echo of a single gunshot in other lakes and ponds during this season in the river bed while in the past sounds of firing in all the surrounding area used to be a routine after the dawn,” he said.
As per data available with World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), about 1.2 million migratory birds used the Indus flyway passing through Chitral and a large chunk of this descended in the valley during the course of long flight.
Ejaz Ahmed, a biodiversity specialist, said that fabulous species of ducks, including Siberian crane, pintail, bar-headed geese, teals and mallards, came to Chitral in this season.
Confirming the very low arrivals of the Siberian ducks in the valley, he attributed it to the extension in winter season and the incessant snowfall in the high altitude areas for last two months. He said that the birds diverted their route if they found inclement weather in the flyway and this had most probably happened this year.
Mr Ejaz dispelled the impression that the species of ducks had diminished in the valley due to poaching.