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The Siberian Bustard are among the several migratory birds that pass through Pakistan and are endangered. – File photo courtesy Creative Commons
The Siberian Bustard are among the several migratory birds that pass through Pakistan and are endangered. – File photo courtesy Creative Commons

ISLAMABAD, July 24: Extinction will be the ultimate fate for the currently endangered migratory birds flying through Pakistan due to widespread illegal hunting.

The National Assembly Standing Committee on Climate Change was disturbed to learn that bustards and the Siberian cranes are being hunted indiscriminately. Both species of the migratory birds flying into Pakistan from Siberia during the winter months are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cities) with 14,000 other endangered species in Pakistan including birds, other animals and plants.

During their first meeting on Tuesday, officials from the ministry briefed the standing committee about the new hunting trends in Pakistan. They described how locals have been shooting at flocks of Siberian cranes flying over head during winter with their AK-47 machine guns for leisure.

“It is illegal to hunt any animal species, particularly birds, in the country for pleasure and it's disappointing that it still happens - that people still don't see the benefits of wildlife,” the IG Forest, Ministry of Climate Change Saeed Mehmood Nasir said.

According to officials, the migratory birds escaped an extremely cold climate in Siberia and stopped over at various bodies of water scattered across Pakistan in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Northern Areas.

But, Siberian cranes are not the only species that the ministry was concerned about. Officials from the ministry also explained how members of royal families from the Middle East, particularly those in Saudi Arabia, are often given licences to hunt endangered migratory birds, such as Bustards, despite the stringent restrictions.

The gathering observed that it was the Foreign Office that issued hunting licences, and that the Ministry on Climate Change and provincial environment departments are not involved.

“Although the number of migratory birds has been increasing, the ministry has continued to resist hunting endangered species,” said the IG Forest. However, he was unable to support his claim with research, reports or other documentary evidence.

Talking to Dawn, a senior official in the Ministry of Climate Change said that the Foreign Office in Islamabad has been issuing hunting permits for hunting in protected areas where Arab falconers indiscriminately hunt bustards. The official said that it was beyond his understanding why royal families are permitted to violate international laws such as Cities to which Pakistan was a signatory.

“It’s not just this government, but several governments that have failed to stop the illegal and indiscriminate hunting of bustards,” said the official. He also said that there is no record of the number of birds hunted every year.

“The licences do not restrict the number of animals or birds that can be hunted,” he added, explaining the helplessness of the Ministry of Climate Change when it comes to interfering in the matter. He explained how the Ministry was not on board from the time the contract was awarded, and did not have access to hunting grounds to keep track of the number of birds being killed.

Still, the Standing Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Dr Ghulam Haider Samejo, expressed concern over the indiscriminate hunting and has arranged a meeting for officials from the Foreign Office to respond to the matter.

Comments (24) Closed

haris Jul 25, 2012 08:36am
Our people finds a pleasure in destroying things around themselves including the very Nature.
Ali Jul 28, 2012 08:37am
Its time for conservation NGOs like WWF, IUCN, MFF and BRC to revisit their awareness raising capacity programmes. The posting of a picture of wrong birds and some mis interpreting facts make one realize that enough has not been done to educate the journalists. I propose extensive programmmes of capacity building and awareness raising for journalists and media persons. Of course special sessions for legislators will work wonders in Pakistan. There are still lots of success stories and one must not lose heart Ali
razaksindhi Jul 25, 2012 01:30pm
Government makes the Laws for common people.Laws are abused completely by government high officials.The Arabs are not allowed to hunt in India but in Pakistan they have free hand.They are given allotment orders to hunt freely even in privately owned areas.There hosts are Pirs,Mirs,Ministers,Chief Minister and President.There is only one door left to knock for justice and that is Chief Justice Of Pakistan.
MUZAMMIL SHAHZAD Jul 25, 2012 02:02pm
khan Jul 25, 2012 10:03am
I am hoping to see a positive story come out of my home country in my lifetime. but the odds are not good. we have made a joke out of law and any kind of rules and regulations. we have blamed everyone else for all the ills of our society, it might actually help if we took a look at our own conduct for a change.
Taha Jul 26, 2012 07:50pm
It is great that Dawn issued this news item. After going through the comments on this blog one thing is clear that we need a core group of environmentally sensitive journalists who can be the real agents of change; they can keep an issue alive and influence the top decision makers. I wonder if some newspaper had covered the proceedings of the prestigious National Assembly meeting in toto? Or does the National Assembly issue the proceedings of whatever was discussed therein. If it does then can someone please post the links Taha
ali Jul 26, 2012 08:02pm
India is no much different these days when there is $ value to nature. Please see the recent news of efforts of environmentalists in India who try to stop the government from getting exemptions from CITES to allow commercial export of Red Sanders.... if this is allowed the species they claim will be wiped out from India! and soon.Editor
Nasir Jul 26, 2012 08:05pm
Dear Editor The hard copy of the newspaper does not carry any picture as shown in the website, please see Dawn of July 25 page 15. Nasir
nasir Jul 26, 2012 08:07pm
Legislators and journalists too
Ali Jul 27, 2012 05:15am
Care must be taken while reporting sensitive and technical issues, Creative commons file photo and a few statements appear non professional Ali
Saad (DXB) Jul 25, 2012 03:45pm
The rich and the powerful can get away with anything in this world, and Saudis given licenses to hunt these rare beauties is a shining example of the same.
Raja Naeem Jul 29, 2012 03:45pm
Who is going to bell the big cat here in Pakistan. Are the parliamentarians ready to listen. Or are the journalists and media ready to create an environment to make them reflect?
Tariq Jul 25, 2012 04:31pm
Our society's mindset is not for preservation but destruction!
Javed Jul 25, 2012 05:01pm
In Pakistan,laws are made to protect the rich,the bold and the beautiful and run away with booty to enjoy the nature in foreign countries.Why bother to preserve nature in Pakistan?Pakistan still has ample vergin land to preserve wild life.Have it organised for a couple of years,then we can make millions as a tourist paradise for hunters in an organised manner.Who will bell the cat?Imran Khan is a vivid hunter himself and realizes the requirment.Maybe he does that if he comes to power.Maybe nature lovers/hunters vote for him.
Imran A. Jul 25, 2012 05:59pm
There are no words for describing this despicable act of the royal family. May Allah do His justice.
Saleem Jul 25, 2012 06:10pm
Simple solution to all this is to bring back British rule again if they agreed? We as a nation is dead nation,we have no values for anyone. Days are near when we all be Extinction like migratory Birds.
Saurabh Jul 25, 2012 06:53pm
Sub-species of a Siberian cranes coming to India via Pakistan and Afghanistan is now extinct. They were last seen in 2001. Thanks to bombarding by Americans on Afghanistan to root out Taliban. They flew in to India over Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other part of the story about Bustards migrating from Siberia is absolutely wrong. Bustards are resident birds and hence do not migrate. They can barely fly over few hundred meters at a strech of time. They prefer to run than to fly. Flight route is only taken to escape dangers and predators. One thing about Pakistan I do not understand, why to permit Arabs to shoot Bustards. Bustards live in vast medows and are a sign of healthy grasslands where other animals and birds flourish. Once they are gone other creatures will soon follow the path of extinction.
Taha Jul 25, 2012 07:01pm
I think the story is not the whole truth, this I can say because the picture is of cranes and the caption is of bustards. It appears that media tries to find stories that attract attraction due to acrimony or controversy. I do not think that a professional will ever give a statement like the one at the start of this story "
Ali Jul 25, 2012 07:07pm
It appears that this report is only part of the whole proceedings. The real issues are deforestation in Pakistan and how to address this problem in the wake of the 18th amendment? It is well known that India brought forestry in the domain of the feferal government. This meant that deforestation became the jurisdiction of the province and the federal government, that is turn made land conversions virtually impossible. But in Pakistan forestry that never was in the Concurrrent List that was abolished by the18th Amendment. I wonder if this real issue was covered in the prestigious meeting of the Parliament Ali
John Smoth Jul 25, 2012 09:32pm
All local, Provincial & Federal Govts. have to start teaching childern at schools the benefits of protecting the environment & wildlife & their impact on ecology, so when they become older then they will a big impact to protect the wildlife & environment.
BRR Jul 25, 2012 11:03pm
There is a dangerous lack of compassion.
flyaway Jul 25, 2012 11:51pm
The birds shown in the photograph are Demoiselle Cranes and not Siberian Bustards. Incidentally the Siberien Cranes which visited India via Pakistan from Siberia are now extinct. The last one was seen in Bharatpur ten years ago. The correspondent should have done some research before writing this article.
Ali Aug 01, 2012 06:13pm
I see a lot many opportunities from a single story published by Jamal Shahid of Dawn, the rich comments that ensued are also commendable. Let us not let all this pace die down . IS there a forum to take up the issues that surface to a logical conclusion !
Nasir Aug 06, 2012 03:53pm
There is a need to start training courses for the media persons if we want to avoid pasting wrong pictures like the pasted with thsi news