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Wildlife conservator falls prey to poaching controversy

October 12, 2012


KARACHI, Oct 11: The Khirthar National Park poaching adventure by a highly influential hunter has begun taking its toll with its first prey being the provincial wildlife conservator, who was relieved of his charge on Thursday for his infirm stand against the illegal hunters.

Sources said orders had been issued for the registration of cases against the director-general of the Sindh Building Control Authority and his friends, and departmental action against the wildlife officials who had facilitated the poaching.

However, no action has been taken against Sindh Wildlife Minister Dr Dayaram Essrani, who had reportedly sat on the report sent in by the (now former) conservator, Saeed Akhtar Baloch, for over a week.

These steps were taken after Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah took notice of the poaching highlighted in the media, exposing the lethargic attitude of the departmental officials and the minister.

The senior-most officer of the department, Hussain Bux Bhaagat, who was the project director of the Development of the Khirthar Protected Area Project, has been transferred and posted as Sindh wildlife conservator.

He retains the additional charge of the project. He took over the charge on Thursday morning, relieving Saeed Baloch, who was directed to report to the SWD secretary.

Responding to Dawn queries on Thursday, Mr Bhaagat said he had assumed the charge in the morning. He said orders had also been issued for the registration of poaching cases against the poachers and disciplinary action against the relevant officials of the department.

“These orders will be implemented in a day or two,” he said.

The sources said SBCA director-general Manzoor Qadir and his friends Rais Shah Nawaz Khushk, Rasool Bux Baloch, Faisal and Ameer Bux Burfat with the help of local wildlife staff had hunted over 150 grey partridges near the Khar Wildlife Centre, in the core area of the Khirthar National Park, on Sept 23.

The names of the wildlife staffers said to have helped in the poaching are game inspectors Hyder Bux Burfat, Mohammad Khan and Mohammad Bux, and game watchers Samiullah, Meral, Ghulam Murtaza, Mohammad Mithal, Wilayatullah and driver Moosa. One of them had said that he had informed the SWD high official a day before the poaching was to take place, but no order was given to him and no steps were taken.

Background interviews with different departmental as well as outside sources showed that the reports regarding the poaching had been prepared by the field officer of the Khar Centre, Babu Palari, as well as game warden Shahabuddin Burfat. These sources said the relevant officials knowing that one of the poachers was a very influential official were trying to shift the responsibility of registering a case to others.

The sources said the poaching incident would not even have surfaced if one of the poachers had not boasted to one of the most influential persons of the area, where the KNP is located, saying that he was returning home after hunting in his area, and “Do whatever you can,” the poacher had reportedly said in a text message to the influential person.