Brutal hunting of migratory bird species: Facing harsh truths in Chitral, KPK
A reflection from Hussain Taj
Bird hunting is common in Chitral, especially during the migratory season. One can commonly see many male members of society carrying guns heading towards popular hunting spots. Primarily waterfowl, doves and Siberian ducks navigate through Chitral during their migratory seasons.
Waterfowl hunters construct artificial lakes mostly along the river to attract innocent birds. They also wait in their hideouts and use whistles to produce duck sounds. The average hunt allowed per hunter is up to 100 waterfowl, per season. Under the government hunting license system, migratory birds are hunted by paying fees per year (Baig, 2022). The permits are regulated by the wildlife department.
Figure 1: One-day hunt displayed by a hunter (The source wishes to remain anonymous)
Doves are seen as a symbol of peace in Chitral and even universally. However, it is a shame that this peaceful species is not safe with us. Resting in trees to regain their energy after long journeys becomes their biggest mistake. Bullets and shots follow them wherever they go. Only a few birds manage to evade the brutal hunting. The unfortunate reality also is that some educators are also involved in the process of hunting and in the display of the hunt. Figure 2: Artificial lakes to attract waterfowl
The local species are on the verge of extinction, for example: Tetragallus himalayensis or Himalayan snowcock (Ram Chukar) - a beautiful hen size bird that lives in high mountains near the glaciers. Rock Partridge is also an endangered bird species found in the mountains. Numerous local birds are not seen any more in Chitral and have become extinct and/or their numbers have dropped noticeably (Baig, 2022).
Figure 3: Himalayan Snowcock (left) and Rock Partridge (right) (Copyright: Gangul Siyabehi and Denis Bohm)
Some of the local birds I saw during my childhood are extinct such as the green pigeon which is no more seen in Chitral. In the future, if hunting continues at the same rate, it is likely that even migratory birds will become extinct.
The Government needs to take steps to control hunting of these unique species. Instead of providing licenses for hunting, it should be banned. In addition, as humans, we have to care for other species. We have to stop hunting other species and if hunting is all that necessary then a limit should be set for hunting.
As an educator, I am motivated to use my time and knowledge to educate myself and others for the rights of all life forms on the planet and for maintaining a balance in the ecosystem.
Baig, R. K. (2022, October 16). Opinions: Chitral Today: https://chitraltoday.net/2022/10/16/the-decreasing-bird-population-of-chitral-1/